Statement on the Persistent Obstruction of Humanitarian Aid by the Federal
Government of Ethiopia
The genocidal Abiy regime, which appears constitutionally incapable of telling the truth, continues
to accuse the Government of Tigray of obstructing humanitarian aid meant for the people of
Tigray. It continues to levy accusations against the Government of Tigray without providing an
iota of evidence. Since the end of June 2021, the Abiy regime has imposed a devastating siege on
Tigray, actively obstructing humanitarian aid, denying the entry of fuel as well as life-saving
medical supplies, limiting the amount of operational cash available for aid agencies on the ground,
and expelling humanitarian officials that refused to toe the line. Indeed, the UN and other
international agencies have explicitly accused the Abiy regime of imposing a “de facto
humanitarian blockade.” By contrast, none of these agencies has accused the Government of
Tigray of obstructing aid meant for its own people. It is clear that the Abiy regime’s baseless
assertions represent a poor attempt to preempt the usual barrage of international pressures that are
brought to bear on a regime accused of seeking to starve its own citizens into submission.
Furthermore, the regime has also suspended banking services across Tigray, preventing Tigrayans
from accessing their own savings, thereby exposing millions to unimaginable hardship. It has also
imposed a total communications blackout, hoping that the truth of its atrocities would remain
hidden from the world. Having placed an asphyxiating chokehold on the people of Tigray, the
Abiy regime continues to manufacture false narratives about its criminal and moral culpability for
its aggressive, cruel and inhumane obstruction of humanitarian aid meant for its own citizens.
Recently, the criminal Abiy regime has resorted to a different tactic to rationalize its willful
obstruction of humanitarian aid. The regime, with the direct participation of Eritrean as well as
Afar regional forces, would instigate a violent confrontation along the Afar-Tigray border in
Abala. It would then suspend humanitarian cargo movements on the grounds of ongoing hostilities.
What the regime would not want the world to notice is that the reason we have a single viable route
for humanitarian aid delivery (The Semera-Abala-Mekelle route) is because it refuses to open
additional humanitarian corridors including air dropping!
On January 23, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) issued a statement replete with
the usual lies, half-truths and distortions. Among other things, it promised that the regime would
allow additional humanitarian flights to Mekelle to deliver much-needed aid and medical supplies.
On the same day this self-congratulatory statement was issued, a 27-trucks convoy belonging to
the World Food Program (WFP) that had departed Semera on its way to Mekelle was forcibly
turned back by the Afar regional government.
To take at face value the claim that the Afar regional government acted on its own would require
the willful suspension of disbelief. In fact, the head of the Disaster Prevention and Risk
Management agency had last week foreshadowed these developments by accusing the Government
of Tigray of instigating conflict in Abala, thereby preventing aid from reaching Tigray. The state minister of foreign affairs, Redwan Hussein, had made similar claims in his meeting with the
WFP’s regional director. Such a coordinated barrage of lies ahead of what would be yet another
obstruction of humanitarian aid was of course designed to let the genocidal regime off the hook
while levying baseless accusations against the Government of Tigray.
To the extent that hostilities along the Afar-Tigray border have had adverse impacts on
humanitarian cargo movements, responsibility for it must be laid at the feet of the Abiy regime
and its local intermediaries within the Afar regional government. On January 14, in its response to
yet another baseless claim by the MFA, the Government of Tigray had noted that Afar special
police forces were routinely crossing over into Tigrayan territory attacking our forces, and
murdering innocent civilians. In fact, in December several hundred ethnic Tigrayans residing in
Abala along the Afar-Tigray border were brutally murdered, with thousands forcibly evicted from
their homes and an unknown number of people of Tigrayan identity were arrested and sent to
Semera where they are being held incommunicado under cruel, inhumane and degrading
Even accepting the false narrative that fighting in Abala was responsible for the obstruction of aid,
what then explains the obstruction of humanitarian aid during the previous 6 months? In fact, what
explains the fact that no aid trucks have arrived in Tigray since mid-December? Since the end of
July, no fuel tankers have been allowed into Tigray. No medical supplies have also been allowed
into Tigray over the past six months. Moreover, according to the UN Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), no humanitarian workers have been cleared to travel by road
from Semera to Mekelle since October 28, 2021.
To put the extent of the humanitarian catastrophe the regime has engineered in perspective,
consider the following. Humanitarian aid agencies estimated that 100 trucks carrying food, nonfood items and fuel must enter Tigray to meets burgeoning needs on the ground. However,
according to OCHA, since July, only less 15 percent of aid trucks have been allowed to enter
Tigray. From July through January, over 20,000 trucks should have arrived in Tigray. In reality,
fewer than 3000 trucks arrived during this period.
Having imposed a total blockade on Tigray, the Abiy regime is now doing its best to evade
accountability for its siege starvation of Tigrayans—a war crime under international law. Listening
to the Abiy regime’s mouthpieces’ recent statements on the humanitarian situation in Tigray, one
would be forgiven for thinking that Tigray’s humanitarian nightmare began last week. In fact, as
noted above, since the departure of its forces from most parts of Tigray in disarray, the regime has
imposed an all-encompassing blockade that has killed thousands of Tigrayans thus far.
The Abiy regime’s baseless accusations against the Government of Tigray are, therefore,
intelligible in the context of its desire to counter the widespread international consensus that it is
starving its own citizens. The Abiy regime, rather than trying to find a solution in good faith, is
buy manufacturing narratives in an effort to evade accountability for using hunger as a tool of war.
The international community must insist on unfettered humanitarian access (through all means
including air dropping) by deploying a robust package of punitive actions or the credible threat of
one. The international community must make it clear that starving one’s citizens into submission
is not an acceptable state conduct in the 21st century.