Thu, 23 Sep 2021

USAID Head Pushes for Humanitarian Aid Access in Tigray

Voice of America
04 Aug 2021, 19:05 GMT+10

U.S. Agency for International Development head Samantha Power is set to meet Wednesday with officials in Ethiopia as the United States urges the government to allow clear access for humanitarian aid to the Tigray region.

Power on Tuesday met with refugees in Sudan who have fled Tigray, and she reiterated the position of the United States, the United Nations and others that ultimately what will help the people in the northernmost region of Ethiopia is an end to the war that has been ongoing for more than nine months.

"The U.S. has been pushing all parties in Tigray toward an immediate cease-fire in the hopes that people like the Ethiopians I met here will be able to return home," Power said in a Twitter post Tuesday. "The conflict has brought harrowing attacks against civilians, it is impacting millions, and it has to end."

She said specifically the United States is calling for the Tigray People's Liberation Front, or the TPLF, to withdraw from the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions, for the Amhara regional government to pull its forces from western Tigray, and for neighboring Eritrea to immediately withdraw its forces from Ethiopia.

"All parties should accelerate unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict, and the commercial blockade of Tigray must end," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Tuesday in Washington.

The United States announced last week $149 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the Tigray region, while also calling attention to bureaucratic delays and attacks on aid convoys that have hindered efforts to get food and other necessary supplies to those in need.

U.N. official asks for more aid access to Ethiopia's war-ravaged Tigray U.N. official Martin Griffiths asks for more aid access to Ethiopia's war-ravaged Tigray, Aug. 3, 2021.

U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths told reporters Tuesday in Addis Ababa that in recent days, 122 trucks had arrived in preparation for taking supplies into Tigray, but that humanitarian organizations said the need in the region is more like 100 trucks of aid per day.

"We need to change circumstances that have seen trucks moving in rather slowly. We need assured access routes by land, as well as, of course, our own flights going in and out of Mekele, and frankly we need the war to end, we need the conflict to stop if this is to be a safe place for the people of those particular regions in northern Ethiopia," Griffiths said.

All warring parties have been trading blame on several issues including blockade of access to humanitarian aid. The Ethiopian government has blamed Tigrayan forces for aid blockades, while Tigrayan forces blame the government. The Associated Press reported last week a senior USAID official told the news agency that the government's allegation is "100% not the case."

The official added that the "primary obstacle is the government."

Ethiopia suspended part or all of the operations Tuesday of Doctors Without Borders and the Norwegian Refugee Council. The aid groups said the government ordered them to halt their work in Tigray.

The Associated Press and Reuters provided some information for this report.

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