UN aid trucks arrive in Tigray’s capital Mekelle after more than six weeks as flights between the city and Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa restart.

In nearly 13 months, fighting has killed thousands, displaced more than 2 million and driven hundreds of thousands into famine-like conditions in Tigray, according to UN estimates.
In nearly 13 months, fighting has killed thousands, displaced more than 2 million and driven hundreds of thousands into famine-like conditions in Tigray, according to UN estimates. (AFP Archive)

More than 100 trucks with food and humanitarian aid have arrived in Tigray’s capital for the first time in more than six weeks and another aid convoy is said to be moving.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a news conference on Wednesday that 157 aid trucks had arrived in Mekelle.

Guterres also said UN flights between Tigray’s capital Mekelle and Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa had also restarted on Wednesday.

He called the resumption of aid deliveries to Tigray and the restarting of UN flights “a good signal."

Guterres said the updates provided “a small hint of hope” that might lead to a “more positive attitude for dialogue” between the warring parties.

Flights were suspended on October 22 after government airstrikes forced a humanitarian flight carrying 11 passengers to abandon its landing in Mekelle.

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'Humanitarian blockade'

The Tigray region has not received badly needed aid supplies including food, medicines and fuel since the Ethiopian military began hitting Mekelle with airstrikes on October 18. 

Even before then, the UN said just 15 percent of the needed supply-laden trucks had entered Tigray since mid-July. 

Hundreds of thousands of people in the region face famine conditions under what the United Nations has called a “de facto humanitarian blockade.”

However, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said none of the 157 trucks that reached Mekelle carried desperately needed fuel, which is essential to deliver humanitarian aid.

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Call for ceasefire

Guterres and African Union Commission chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat spoke at a joint press conference on Wednesday, after a private meeting and both strongly supported mediation efforts by former Nigerian president Olesegun Obasanjo, the AU envoy.

Mahamat said Obasanjo re-established contact between Ethiopian and Tigrayan forces, shuttling between Addis Ababa and Mekelle three times and listening to conditions from both sides for a solution.

Both Guterres and Mahamat urged the warring sides to put an end to the fight, stressing the need for a ceasefire.

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Source: AP