The Ethiopian government’s threatened offensive against TDF advances means their cease fire is in name only while a new statement claiming some aid groups are “arming” opposition forces further threatens the safety of aid operations.
This document provides an analysis of the current situation within Ethiopia and the implications for aid agencies working there.
The Ethiopian government declared the launch of a new offensive against the TDF on 14 July in response to their advances and accused aid organisations of “arming” opposition forces.
The cease fire is now in name only by both sides – though international pressure to try and ensure it holds until its planned demise in September will continue. It is however looking increasingly fragile – with conflict likely to increase within the next month.
Aid deliveries will remain piecemeal, with only international organisations such as the WFP/UN having the diplomatic hard power to ensure supplies are delivered.
MITIGATION FOR AID ORGANISATIONS
Security force activity will remain significant, and the consequent high rate of incidents means the risk to aid organisations is currently rated as HIGH throughout the country, with Tigray region being rated as VERY HIGH. Aid agencies will need to continue their own assessments of how to adjust their security strategies, but there are options available:
STRONGLY advise that communications with either HQ or a coordinating body such as OCHA, are maintained. Ensure alternative means of communications in case of being stopped and drawn into an incident that may deteriorate.
STRONGLY advise that aid organisations link up with larger international organisations – such as the UN (such as OCHA) because smaller INGOs do not have the advantage of the international political pressure on both sides, or the ability for potential collaboration on the ground.
Those traveling to the field need to understand local complexities and ensure their team is composed in a manner that signals neutrality and are able to negotiate in tense situations.
Programmes should be as open and transparent, and apolitical with all parties, especially at checkpoints and with equipment held in vehicles.
Programmes will need to ensure local security staff understand they do not have the same rights as international bodies if offices / equipment / staff are searched.
Consider the safety and security implications for national staff working or traveling out of their home areas of Ethiopia in the context of ethnic violence in regions beyond Tigray.