In order for emergency supplies to be delivered to regions that are experiencing a shortage of food, the United States has urged Ethiopia to enable “unrestricted access to gasoline” in the Tigray region. The United States of America issued a demand for unrestricted relief delivery to the region of Tigray as well as to the conflict-affected districts of Afar and Amhara, which are located nearby. They also encouraged the government to remove limitations on the flow of cash and fuel into Tigray.
In the past, Ethiopia has dismissed as fantasy allegations that Tigray is experiencing a fuel scarcity. It is reported that there are many bags of grain stored in warehouses, but these bags cannot be dispersed since there is a fuel shortage. Over the past few weeks, both the administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have expressed interest in the possibility of negotiating an end to the bloody conflict. After making a rare visit to the war-torn region that is currently facing grave conditions, the envoys for the United States and the European Union for the Horn of Africa on Tuesday urged the Ethiopian government to restart basic services in Tigray.
Since June 2021, when Tigrayan rebels retook the territory from federal forces following the outbreak of war almost 21 months prior, the northern region has been fighting an uphill battle to make ends meet as a result of food shortages and a lack of access to essential services. Diplomatic efforts have recently been stepped up, with a new US ambassador, Mike Hammer, and an EU envoy, Annette Weber, visiting Ethiopia to hold talks with various parties, including the TPLF’s leader, Debretsion Gebremichael. In a joint statement, the two envoys said, “It is very important for the people of Tigray that electricity, phone service, banking, and other basic services are quickly restored.”
The envoys added that Debretsion gave “security guarantees for those who need to work to restore services.” Last week, Debretsion issued a warning that vital services in Tigray would need to be reinstated before negotiations could begin. “With this security assurance, there should be no hurdle for the restoration of services to commence,” they continued. “We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.” According to the United Nations, more than 13 million people across northern Ethiopia are in need of assistance with their food supply.
The visit of the envoys occurred in part at the same time as a trip to Ethiopia last week by experts on human rights from the United Nations. The three-person team was attempting to investigate crimes committed in Tigray during the war. In December of 2017, the United Nations Human Rights Council established the commission to investigate allegations of violations of international human rights law, as well as humanitarian law and refugee law. After initially opposing the idea of establishing a commission and describing the move as “counter-productive,” Ethiopia later gave its blessing for the group to operate within its borders.
The commission stated in a statement that it had recently finished its first visit to Ethiopia and that while there it had met with the deputy prime minister, the minister of justice, and other senior officials. The statement was made on Tuesday. “The Commission hopes that the government will provide it with unhindered access without delay,” it said, “so that it may visit sites and speak freely and privately with survivors, witnesses, and other people of interest.”
As a result of the battle, hundreds of thousands of people are on the verge of starvation, and more than two million have been forced to flee their homes. In addition, both sides are being accused of perpetrating major violations of human rights. Since a humanitarian truce was proclaimed at the end of March, there has been a noticeable reduction in fighting.