Three children killed in Ethiopia air strikes: UN
Ethiopian forces killed three children and wounded several other people when they carried out air strikes on Mekele, the capital of the war-battered Tigray region, the United Nations said Tuesday.
The air force, state media reported, struck Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) targets on Monday, a dramatic escalation in the year-long conflict.
“Local health workers report that three children were killed and one person injured in an airstrike on the outskirts of Mekele in Tigray yesterday morning local time,” said Jens Laerke, a UN spokesman.
“A second airstrike in Mekele town later in the day reportedly injured nine people and caused damages to houses and a nearby hotel,” said the spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The Ethiopian government initially dismissed reports about the bombardments on Mekele as an “absolute lie” but state media later confirmed the air force had struck (TPLF) targets.
They were the first air raids on Mekele since the early stages of the war in northern Ethiopia that has killed untold numbers of people and triggered a deep humanitarian crisis.
“The intensification of the conflict is alarming,” OCHA’s Laerke said in a statement.
“And we once again remind all parties to the conflict of their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.”
The bombardments came as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government appeared to be pressing a new offensive against the TPLF, which dominated national politics for almost three decades before he took power in 2018.
After months of growing tensions with the dissident regional authorities, linked to the TPLF, Abiy sent troops to Tigray on November 4 last year to topple them.
Federal government forces quickly took control of a large part of the region, including Mekele. But in June, the TPLF recovered key parts of Tigray and then pursued its offensive in the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions.
The UN appeals “for unrestricted and sustained humanitarian access to all people in need of supplies, fuel, cash, and other support,” Laerke said.
“Hundreds of humanitarian workers are in northern Ethiopia and ready to respond to existing and increasing needs regardless of where they are found.”
In early July, the UN warned that 400,000 people across Tigray had “crossed the threshold into famine.”
The situation has since then only worsened in the region the UN says is subjected to a de facto blockade that keeps out most humanitarian aid.