Aid group says staffer killed in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict

NAIROBI, KENYA (AP) — An international aid group said yesterday a staff member has been killed in Ethiopia’s conflict in its Tigray region, while Ethiopia and a frustrated United Nations (UN) aired differing views on a growing humanitarian crisis as food and other supplies run out for millions of people.

The International Rescue Committee said “communication with the area is extremely difficult and we are still working to gather and confirm the details surrounding the events that led to the death of our colleague” in the Hitsats refugee camp in Shire.

The Tigray region remains largely sealed off from the outside world as worried humanitarian organisations warn of growing hunger, attacks on refugees and dwindling medicine and other supplies more than a month after fighting erupted between Ethiopia’s government and the now-fugitive Tigray one after a months-long struggle over power.

Ethiopia’s government has made clear it intends to manage the process of delivering aid to Tigray, and it has rejected “interference” as fighting is reported to be continuing despite its declaration of victory.

Yesterday it said it had begun delivering aid to areas in Tigray under its control, including Shire and the Tigray capital, Mekele, a city of a half-million people.

“Suggestions that humanitarian assistance is impeded due to active military combat in several cities and surrounding areas within the Tigray region is untrue and undermines the critical work undertaken by the National Defence Forces to stabilise the region from the attacks waged by the belligerent clique,” Abiy’s office said. Sporadic gunfire, it said, “need not be misconstrued as active conflict”.

Tigray refugee children at a clinic run by Mercy Corps in Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, Qadarif. PHOTO: AP