Humanitarian Coordinator a.i. condemns surge in killings of aid workers in Ethiopia's Tigray region.
The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia ad interim, Mr. Grant Leaity, condemns in the strongest terms the killings, violence, attacks, abductions, and threats against aid workers in Ethiopia's Tigray region in recent months.
The total number of humanitarians killed in Tigray since the outset of the conflict has climbed from 12 to 23 as reports of the murder of an additional 11 aid workers from the Relief Society of Tigray (REST, an NGO based in Tigray) have now emerged, in addition to the previously reported killing of their colleague Aman Desta Abay in Kola Tembien in May.
There was a total of 10 trucks from REST that were commandeered by armed forces in the week of 22 June 2021, from which 5 of the drivers returned safely, 2 were killed in separate incidents outlined below and 3 are still missing and unaccounted for. Information was also received confirming an additional 9 fatalities which had not yet been reported, dating back to January:
- Tensay Seifu Marsha, Driver, 08/07/2021, Hawzen
- Gebrecherkos Gebru Hadera, Driver, 06/07/2021, Yech'ila
- Birhane Kiros Yeibyo, Forman, 26/05/2021, Gulomekheda
- Hadush Mamo Alemayo, Construction Forman, 07/05/2021, Abergele Yech'ila
- Kiros Seged Engida, Warehouse Guard, 29/03/2021, Hawzen
- Tefera Shushay Gebremeskel, Guard, 19/03/2021, Shire
- Gebregergis Tela Tesfay, Tractor Operator, 15/02/2021, Hawzen
- G/hiwot Zeray Gebrekidan, Driver, 01/02/2021, Kola Tembien
- Gebregziabher Gebreyesus Reda, Community Facilitator, 30/01/2021, Kilteawlaielo
- Tsegay T/mariam Gebrekidan; Driver, 22/01/2021, Werie Leke
- Weldegerima Belay Gebru, Driver, 22/01/2021, Ahferom
"Once again we are shaken by this news. Violence against aid workers is intolerable.", Mr. Leaity said. "Our humanitarian colleagues work tirelessly to deliver humanitarian assistance and protection to the civilians affected by this conflict. Maintaining their safety and unhindered access to people in need as laid out under international human rights and humanitarian law is critical to the provision of life-saving assistance."
"We reiterate our call for humanitarians to be respected and protected and for the acts that led to the death of our colleagues to be fully investigated. Accountability must be pursued to deter attacks against humanitarian personnel", Mr. Leaity stressed. "As humanitarians respond to the conflict-affected areas in neighbouring regions, authorities must ensure that aid workers can move safely and deliver humanitarian protection and assistance to the most vulnerable people -- in Tigray, Afar, Amhara and across the whole country."