Addis Abeba – Following a statement by the U.S. State Department Bureau of African Affairs on the need for urgent “actions to respect and implement” provisions of unhindered humanitarian aid flow “as agreed in Pretoria”, Ambassador Redwan Hussein, National security advisor of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is also head of the Ethiopian delegation for the AU-led peace talks, said that, “aid is flowing like no other times, even to the areas not yet held by ENDF,” and announced that 70% of Tigray is now under the control of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF).
Ambassador Redwan also disputed reports of lack of humanitarian supply to Tigray and said that adding that “35 trucks of food and three trucks of medicine arrived [in] Shire. Flights are allowed. Services are being reconnected.”
In a tweet addressed to Ambassador Redwan, the State Department Bureau of African Affairs referred to the Ambassador as saying in Nairobi “that by week’s end humanitarian aid would flow unhindered as agreed in Pretoria. Vulnerable Ethiopians in Tigray, Afar, and Amhara need aid now.”
The Bureau also called out for “restoration of services, protection of civilians & human rights accountability” and said it was “waiting urgently for actions to respect and implement the agreement.”
In what came as a response to the Bureau’s statement, ambassador Redwan said that “the agreement just provides opportunities to enhance services, no hindrance whatsoever regarding aid.”
The back and forth between the Bureau and Ambassador Redwan comes a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement saying that desperately-needed aid had not yet been allowed in, despite the cessation of hostilities agreement. WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan told the media on Wednesday that “the people in Tigray need immediate, massive, overwhelming assistance now,” including not just food and healthcare but also goods, commodities, plus the free movement of staff to deliver the aid.
This morning, Dr. Kibrom Gebreselassie, Chief Executive Director, Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital in Mekelle, said that “nine days after signing the [cessation of hostilities] patients are still suffering from lack of basic medications like insulin, dialysis and antibiotics.”
Talks between the federal government and Tigrayan authorities are continued in Nairobi, Kenya, disarmament of Tigrayan combatants as well as humanitarian aid reportedly being on top of the agenda.
Article 5 of the cessation of hostilities agreement reached in South Africa on 02 November says, “The Government of FDRE shall expedite the provision of humanitarian aid in collaboration with humanitarian agencies taking into account the specific needs of vulnerable groups including women, children and the elderly”.
Article 11 on “Monitoring, Verification, and Compliance” of the cessation of hostilities agreement states that the two parties agreed “to institute a monitoring, verification, and compliance mechanism for the effective implementation of the Permanent Cessation of Hostilities. For this purpose, the Parties agree to establish a Joint Committee comprising a representative from each parties, a representative from IGAD and chaired by the African Union through the High-Level Panel.”
However, there is no report so far on the status of the formation of such panel or the the deployment thereof.
In a related development, a senior Tigrayan official, Kindeya Gebrehiwot, said in a tweet on Thursday that despite the agreement, Eritrean forces continued killing civilians and shelling towns including Shire, where ambassador Redwan said food and medical aid was being delivered.
“Killing, kidnapping & shelling around Shire & Adi Daero, Tigray continues by Eritrean forces. There is flock of Eritrean civilians including women on a looting mission as spotted today at Shire,” he said.
It comes in the backdrop of the ongoing meeting between the top military leadership of the federal army and Tigrayan forces taking place in Nairobi, Kenya.
The meeting between the military commanders is happening under the framework of Article 6 of the cessation of hostilities agreement on the provisions of “Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR)” which stipulates that the two sides “agree and recognize that the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has only one defense force.” Accordingly, the two said “agree to organize a meeting of senior commanders within 5 days from the signing of this Agreement to discuss and work out detailed modalities for disarmament for the TPLF combatants, taking into account the security situation on the ground.”
The meeting between the two top military officials was scheduled to end on Wednesday 09 November, but reports indicated that it has been extended. AS