Addis Ababa August 27/2022 /ENA/ Over the past five months, the March 24 humanitarian truce declared by the Government of Ethiopia enabled partners to increase assistance for the people of Tigray region.

Accordingly, the World Food Program (WFP) and other international humanitarian agencies and partners lauded the humanitarian truce, noting that it has brought about a practical change to facilitate smooth flow of relief supply.

Contrary to the stated plain facts, TPLF’s track record clearly manifested that it cannot survive without conflict and theft. Weaponizing of aid and the act of siphoning assistance away from the intended beneficiaries in Tigray Region is a common path taken by TPLF since the 1980s.

To mention a few recorded facts, millions of dollars in aid from Western countries for victims of the Ethiopian famine of 1984/85 was siphoned off by rebels to buy weapons, according to a BBC investigative report.  

They used the cash to fund attempts to overthrow the government of the time, disregarding the dire need of emergency assistance to the people of Tigray.

Similarly, the CIA 1985 assessment entitled: “Ethiopia: Political and Security Impact of the Drought,” indicated that aid money was being misused. Its report concluded: “Some funds that insurgent organizations are raising for relief operations, as a result of increased world publicity, are almost certainly being diverted for military purposes.”  

In its invasion in the Amhara region last year, the TPLF “looted” USAID warehouses. It was the USAID itself which confirmed the looting following the criticism that aid organizations were feeding TPLF forces.

“We do have proof that several of our warehouses have been looted and completely emptied in the areas, particularly in Amhara, where TPLF soldiers have gone into,” mission director Sean Jones told EBC.

“I do believe that the TPLF has been very opportunistic,” he added.

It is to be recalled that the Federal Government of Ethiopia has also been warning the international community on multiple occasions and continuously that the TPLF has been looting fuel and humanitarian aid in Tigray since the beginning of the conflict in 2020; and independently research reports have further corroborated these claims.

Tragically for the Ethiopian people, these calls and warnings have fallen on deaf ears and no action has been taken to address these crimes, according to a statement of Government Communication Service issued recently.

Just repeating its familiar trends, the TPLF stole 570,000 liters of fuel from the WFP warehouse in Mekele. The UN on Wednesday said “Tigrean forces (TPLF) stole 12 trucks of fuel from the World Food Program warehouse in Mekelle.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, told journalists in New York that the forces, in the morning of August 24, “forcefully entered” World Food Program Warehouse in Mekelle and  stole 12 tankers (570,000 liters) of fuel.

“These stocks of fuel would be used solely for humanitarian purposes with the distribution of food, fertilizers and other emergency relief items,” he said.

The spokesperson added that the “loss of fuel will impact humanitarian operations.” The U.N has condemned “looting or confiscation of humanitarian goods on humanitarian premises.”

Similarly, the World Food Program director, David Beasley on his part called the incident “outrageous and disgraceful!”

He said “Tigrayan authorities stole 570,000 liters of fuel for WFP operations in Tigray! Millions will starve if we do not have fuel to deliver food. This is outrageous and disgraceful. We demand return of this fuel now.”

The USAID, which witnessed similar lootings of its warehouses in Amhara region last year, strongly condemned the TPLF’s theft of fuel for WFP‘s work, and its harassment of aid workers. “Impeding efforts to help feed Ethiopian civilians is deeply cruel, and we call on the TPLF to return the fuel and respect humanitarian operations.”

Praising the humanitarian truce declared by the government to have facilitated relief supplies, USAID Administrator Samantha Power said for the past five months, the humanitarian truce in Ethiopia enabled USAID and partners to increase assistance for people in Afar, Amhara, and Tigray.  

The Government of Ethiopia also called on the international humanitarian community to take serious action and exercise honesty and transparency concerning the aforementioned confirmed reports and evidence; and asked the international community to hold the TPLF accountable and provide the federal government guarantees that humanitarian assistance is indeed reaching intended beneficiaries and people in the Tigray Region.

It is to be recalled that the Government of Ethiopia has been taking great steps to facilitate unhindered flow of humanitarian assistance to people in Tigray Region since the conflict began, further stressing peaceful option is never too late.

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