Message from Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen to the International Community on the Humanitarian Response in Tigray
Message from H.E. Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, to the International Community on the Humanitarian Response in the Tigray Region
12 June 2021
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Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Ethiopia stands ready to work positively and constructively with all its partners to scale up humanitarian assistance, rebuild social cohesion, and restore basic services in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
Therefore, what the country needs at this critical moment is the support of friends and partners and not uncalled-for pressure that would complicate the situation further.
What is saddening is the attempt to dictate terms to the country in ways that are not helpful. We do not consider this a friendly act. That is why the Ethiopian government cannot be expected to accept with equanimity this condescending approach. We are indeed disappointed by the campaign that is being waged against Ethiopia.
In this regard, it is extremely regrettable to see that some within the international community have embarked on a mission to undermine the unity, territorial integrity, and cohesion of the Ethiopian state, under the guise of humanitarian concern. We urge these individuals and partners to desist from these unhelpful activities.
In this regard, accusations labelled against Ethiopia of using hunger as a weapon of war on its own citizens is an egregious falsehood, and in no way calculated to help foster peace, harmony, and stability. It should be noted that, in the first round of humanitarian response, efforts were made to reach out to 4.5 million people in the Tigray region through the delivery of food and non-food items. In the second and third rounds, the relief efforts were able to reach out to 5.2 million people. So far, 170,798 metric tons of foods, worth $135 million have already been distributed. Currently, 6 operators namely the World Food Program, World Vision, CARE, Relief Society of Tigray, Food for the Hungry, and the Ethiopian government are providing food assistance in the region.
The Ethiopian government has not only demonstrated its willingness and commitment to work with the international community to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Tigray, but it has also provided full and unfettered access for humanitarian actors to operate in all parts of the region, through a simplified blanket approval process. In the areas where the safe movement of humanitarian cargo is strained, military escort is offered as a matter of last resort to reach those in need.
In this connection, we wish to point out here that we have credible evidence, indicating that some actors have attempted to smuggle weapons to arm the terrorist cell under the guise of humanitarian assistance. This is unacceptable.
There is no doubt about the enormity of the challenges in the Tigray region. It is through working with the government to accelerate the humanitarian response to reach out to every person in need that will address the problem. The Ethiopian government is well aware of its responsibilities towards its own citizens and its obligations under international humanitarian law.
The Ethiopian government is using every ounce of its strength to mobilize all the necessary resources from within the country to reach out to those in need, but its resources are limited. This is where the support and solidarity of the international community becomes all the more critical. We are grateful to those who lent a helping hand in this regard.
We wish to reiterate once again that the Ethiopian government remains ready and committed to working closely with those partners willing to engage positively and constructively to protect lives and livelihoods.
I thank you!
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