The United Nations decided, on Friday, to suspend all humanitarian flights to the Ethiopian region of Tigray, after an aid plane was forced to interrupt its flight to the city of Mekelle, the capital of the region, following airstrikes in the city.
This came in statements made by Stephane Dujarric, spokesman to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to reporters at the UN headquarters.
Earlier on Friday, the Ethiopian army continued, for the fourth consecutive day, its airstrikes on the “Tigray People’s Liberation Front” centers in Mekelle, at a time when the United Nations continues to warn of the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the city.
“Today we had to suspend all our humanitarian flights providing assistance to millions of civilians in Tigray,” Dujarric said.
He added: “One of our planes carrying humanitarian aid had to cut off its flight to Mekelle, which was carrying humanitarian aid and 11 passengers, and it was forced to return to Addis Ababa because of the airstrikes targeting the regional capital.”
“Contacts are currently underway at all levels with the Ethiopian side regarding this,” the UN spokesman said, without specifying the period of suspension of humanitarian flights to Tigray.
“Due to the airstrikes and the military escalation this week, not a single aid truck entered Tigray,” Gemma Connell, head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for Southern and Eastern Africa, told reporters separately.
She added, “This is the first time I can remember that our plane had to turn back and cancel its flight not because of bad weather but because of airstrikes on the ground.”
The developments in Tigray come about a year after clashes erupted on November 4, 2020, between the Ethiopian army and the “Popular Front”, after government forces entered the region in response to an attack on an army base.
On the 28th of the same month, Ethiopia announced the end of a “law enforcement” operation by taking control of the entire region, despite reports of continuing human rights violations in the region since then, where thousands of civilians were killed.
The conflict has displaced hundreds of thousands, and more than 60,000 have fled to Sudan, according to observers, while Khartoum says that their number has reached 71,488 people.