The United Nations has expressed concern over a deadly airstrike in the northern Ethiopian capital, Tigray, that killed nine people.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, told a news conference at the UN headquarters in New York that the situation was calm but tense.
Dujarric said local health officials said three children had been killed and one injured in an airstrike on the outskirts of Mekelle.
“A second air strike in Mekelle last night injured nine people and damaged a house and a nearby hotel.
“Our humanitarian community is concerned about the escalation of the conflict and reiterates its commitment to protecting civilians and civilian infrastructure within the framework of international humanitarian law.”
“We also call on all those in need to continue their humanitarian efforts indefinitely,” said Dujarric, a UN correspondent for the Nigerian News Agency (NAN).
He said the United Nations had received alarming reports of an air strike on the Mekelle apartment complex in the capital, Tigray.
He said the organization was trying to investigate the details, but was concerned about the impact on civilians in the affected areas.
“UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is deeply concerned about the escalation of the conflict in northern Ethiopia,” Dujarric said.
Almost a year ago, a battle broke out in Tigray between the Ethiopian army and the Tigris People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the region’s main political force.
Reports of widespread human rights abuses and the displacement of more than two million people have claimed thousands of lives.
In recent months, humanitarian needs have increased, including the killing, looting, and destruction of health centers and agricultural infrastructure, including irrigation systems.
According to Dujarric, the secretary-general stressed that all parties should avoid targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure and called for an end to all wars.
“He called on the parties to prioritize the welfare of the people and to provide the necessary support for important humanitarian assistance, including the facilitation of the movement of fuel and drugs,” Dujarric said.
Necessary supplies, especially cash and fuel shortages, have severely disrupted relief efforts in Tigray, where more than 400,000 people are starving.
Under international humanitarian law, all parties have a duty to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.
This includes hundreds of humanitarian workers working to help millions of civilians.
“Civilians are in a battle, and the battle is forcing us to reduce life-saving operations when people are most in need, such as distributing food, distributing water and providing health care,” Dujarric said.
The conflict has spread to neighboring Amhara and Afar provinces, blocking access to those in need.
The World Food Program (WFP) says up to seven million people are in dire need of food aid in three regions: Tigray, Amhara and Afar.
Most of them, about 5.2 million, are in Tigray.
The United Nations calls on all parties to provide prompt and unhindered access to emergency assistance to all areas of humanitarian need, including those affected by the recent war.
“It includes fuel and cash, so humanitarian workers can’t make drugs, so our team can reach people who need help,” Dujarric said.