United Nations, October 19: The United Nations is trying to verify details of reports of airstrikes on a civilian area of Mekelle, Ethiopia, capital of the embattled Tigray region, a UN spokesman said Monday.
"We are deeply concerned about the potential impact on civilians who reside or work in the affected areas," said Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. "The secretary-general is deeply concerned over the escalation of the conflict in northern Ethiopia, as illustrated by the airstrikes in Mekelle."
"He underlines that all parties must avoid the targeting of civilians or civilian infrastructure," Dujarric said. "The secretary-general reiterates his call for all hostilities to stop. He urges the parties to prioritize the welfare of the people and to provide the necessary support for critical humanitarian assistance to flow, including facilitating the movement of fuel and medicines."
The spokesman said the lack of essential supplies, particularly cash and fuel, severely disrupts aid operations in Tigray. At least 400,000 people are facing famine-like conditions in the region.
He reminded parties in the conflict of their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure. The protection sought includes hundreds of humanitarian workers working tirelessly to assist millions of civilians.
Civilians caught up in the fighting, and the fighting itself is forcing a reduction in life-saving operations when people need them most, including food and water distribution and health services, Dujarric said.
In the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar, fighting is hampering the ability of humanitarians to reach people in dire need of assistance, including many people displaced multiple times, he said.
"We urgently call on all the parties to allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of relief supplies and aid personnel to all areas with humanitarian needs, including those affected by the recent fighting," Dujarric said. "These supplies include fuel and cash, without which humanitarians cannot do their work, and medicines, so our colleagues can reach people who desperately need assistance."
The Ethiopian government denied it took part in an aerial attack, according to published reports. The Tigrayan rebels are not known to have aircraft that could launch aerial attacks, as were reported on Mekelle.
Source: Xinhua