On Wednesday, new airstrikes struck the capital of Ethiopia’s Tigray Region and another community. Mekele video showed wounded people being rushed to their vehicles with thick black smoke rising from the sky. Ethiopia’s government claimed it attacked facilities for making and repairing weapons. A Tigray spokesman denied this.
The Associated Press was informed by the United Nations that it is reducing its Tigray presence by more than half due to an Ethiopian government blockade, which halts humanitarian aid efforts. People die of hunger.
The war in Africa’s second-largest country has been going on for almost a year between Ethiopian and allies forces and the Tigray ones, who had long dominated the government before falling out with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmad, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Hayelom Kebede, former director of Tigray’s flagship Ayder Referral Hospital, said that at least 14 people were hurt in the airstrikes in Mekele. Three were in critical condition.
Legesse Tulu, an Ethiopian government spokesperson, stated that there had been “initial airstrikes” in Mekele. He said they had targeted the Mesfin Industrial Engineering site where Tigray forces make and repair heavy weaponry. Legesse claimed that the airstrikes were not intended to cause harm to civilians.
He said that Agbe was also hit by another airstrike, this time between Tembien and Hagere Selam.
A Tigray spokesperson denied that the Mekele site was linked to weapons. Kindeya Gebrehiwot said it was not at all, calling it a garage with “many old tires”. It is still burning.
Amit Abrha, who claimed she was working at the site, stated that she didn’t hear an airstrike coming. She also said that she collapsed when it happened. “People picked me up. “People picked me up.”
Two days earlier, Ethiopia’s air force confirmed that airstrikes had been launched in Mekele. A witness claimed that three children were killed. According to the air force, communications towers and equipment had been attacked. Mekele had not seen fighting since June when Tigray forces took over much of the region. This was a dramatic turning point in the war.
In a city under siege of constant fighting, panic has reignited and doctors have spoken out about running out of basic medicines.
Despite repeated requests from the U.N. to provide basic services and humanitarian assistance to Tigray’s 6,000,000 inhabitants, Ethiopia’s government declared these expectations “absurd”. Meanwhile, Tigray forces are fighting in neighboring Amhara and Afar. There have been hundreds of thousands of people displaced, thereby escalating the crisis.
Saviano Abreu, U.N. humanitarian spokesman, stated that although not all movements have taken place yet, there will likely be a reduction of nearly 530 to 220 U.N. personnel on the ground in Tigray. He said that the decision was directly linked to “the operation constraints we have faced over the past months” and the volatile security situation.
Abreu said that the lack of fuel and cash due to the government’s blockade of Tigray “has made sustaining life-saving activities extremely difficult for humanitarians” at the most critical times.
He stated that approximately 1,200 humanitarian workers, including a reduced U.N presence, will remain in Tigray.
In recent weeks, the AP confirmed that Tigray had suffered the first deaths from starvation due to the government blockade.
Humanitarian workers also attempt to reach the hungry and displaced people of the Amhara and Afar areas. There, communications blackouts and active combat make it difficult to verify claims made by warring parties. Witnesses told the AP by witnesses that Tigray forces were killing civilians. This is the latest abuse in a war marred by gang-rapes and mass expulsions as well as widespread detention of ethnic Tigrayans.
The airstrikes on Tigray’s capital this week “appear to be part in efforts to weaken Tigray’s armed resistance which has recently made further gains within the eastern Amhara region with fighting continuing in some areas.” William Davison, an analyst at International Crisis Group, stated that control over the skies was one of the few areas of military advantage left for the federal government. “The bombing urban areas reinforces the impression Addis Ababa is prepared to take civilian lives in Tigray as part its military operations.”