Ethiopia denies reports of fuel shortages in the Tigray region.
A European Union official visited Tigray this week and said on Tuesday fuel shortages were hindering the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid. However, a spokeswoman for the Ethiopian prime minister told VOA that the idea of a fuel shortage in Tigray is a myth.
European Union Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said the Tigrayans have suffered enough due to the ongoing aid blockade.
At a press conference in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, he said the number of trucks delivering food to the region’s capital, Mekelle, had nearly reached the level necessary to meet the basic humanitarian needs of the people of Tigray.
However, he said the relief effort needed more fuel so that aid workers could deliver aid to those in need.
“It is necessary to remove restrictions, especially on the supply of fuel. More fuel is needed, because without it, even the food aid that comes in Mekelle cannot reach the rural areas, where the needs are greatest,” Lenarcic said. “So now we have a situation where the humanitarian houses in Mekelle are overcrowded, but people in the countryside are still hungry.”
The conflict that began in November 2020 between the Ethiopian federal government and the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front has pushed thousands to the brink of starvation and left millions in need of food aid.
Lenarčić also urged the government of Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy to lift financial restrictions that he says are hindering the provision of basic services, such as the payment of salaries to aid workers and hospital workers who go unpaid for one year.
“I don’t see a military rationale for a blockade of electricity and banking services,” Lenarcic said. “On the contrary, we believe that these services should be restored without delay, because they are primarily for civilian use, and the absence of these services exacerbates the humanitarian situation in this region.”
However, the Ethiopian federal government denies any blockades, especially on fuel.
Abiah spokeswoman Billen Seyoum said available data indicate that three fuel trucks arrived in Mekelle with more than 137,500 liters of fuel last week alone.
The Seiyum said that since April, more than 920,000 liters of fuel have been sent to the region.
“Thus, the myth of the lack of fuel is a hidden plan of the TPLF to increase the mobility of its army in preparation for the next round of conflict. Therefore, there are no sanctions on fuel, and such statements should be clearly analyzed in reality,” Seyoum said. .
On its Twitter account, the Tigray Department of External Relations insists that the level of assistance provided to Tigray does not meet the needs of the region. It says that from April to early June, just over 770,000 liters of fuel were allowed into Tigray.
In a text message to VOA, TPLF spokesman Getachau Reda accused the Abiy government of misrepresenting the facts. He said the lack of fuel in Tigray is as bad as the creation of unnecessary checkpoints or other obstacles aimed at limiting the access of humanitarian aid.