Ethiopia war: Food aid has been halted in two towns after warehouses were robbed
After gunmen robbed WFP warehouses in two northern Ethiopian towns, the World Food Programme (WFP) has halted food aid distribution.
According to the United Nations, looters from rebel Tigrayan troops held relief workers at gunpoint in the town of Kombolcha. They stole a considerable amount of food, including some for malnourished children.
A civil battle between Tigrayan and government forces is causing catastrophic hunger in northern Ethiopia. More than nine million people need crucial food supplies after more than a year of fighting.
During the days of the theft, the UN, which oversees the WFP, said its workers had been subjected to severe intimidation, according to a spokesman for the UN. As a result, food distribution in Kombolcha and adjacent Dessie, two crucial towns in the northern Amhara region on the way to Addis Ababa, has been halted.
The Ethiopian government recently stated that the Tigray rebels had been driven out of the towns. The rebels, on the other hand, claimed that the army had only reclaimed areas that they had abandoned. Government troops and the Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF), which ruled Ethiopia for decades and now controls Tigray, began fighting over a year ago.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed dispatched soldiers to Tigray to suppress the TPLF, which he claimed had attacked army camps. The rebels, however, launched a counterattack, retaking Tigray and marching into the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions.
According to UN data, the fighting has killed thousands of people, displaced more than two million people, and forced hundreds of thousands into famine-like conditions.
The humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia remains an essential priority for the US, according to US State Department spokesperson Ned Price. He urged both parties to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the crisis so that relief could reach those in need.