Ethiopia says Tigray aid allowed, agencies still say no access

  • The Ethiopian government and Tigray forces signed a truce on November 2
  • Ethiopian government adviser says aid is ‘cleared and ready’
  • Aid delivery is part of Nairobi peace talks agenda

NAIROBI, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s government said on Friday international aid was “cleared and ready” to enter Tigray, after aid agencies said they were still awaiting access to the ravaged region. by the war nine days after the declaration of a truce.

As part of the November 2 ceasefire agreement with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls the region, the federal government pledged to work with agencies to accelerate the provision of aid, without committing to a timetable.

The central government and representatives of Tigray are negotiating the implementation of this agreement during talks in Nairobi, including the resumption of aid deliveries.

International agencies say they have been prevented for much of the conflict from sending desperately needed aid to Tigray, a region of 5.5 million people, half of whom are in dire need of food.

The Ethiopian government denies blocking aid.

Its chief negotiator, Redwan Hussien, said Friday that essential services were restored and humanitarian aid was flowing.

Three officials from international humanitarian organizations said their convoys were still awaiting permission from the authorities to enter the area.

In comments sent to Reuters later on Friday, Redwan said 35 aid trucks had gone to the northern town of Shire, but that they belonged to the government.

“The one for humanitarian aid will follow soon. They are cleared and ready,” he said, adding that he expected international aid to start arriving “at any moment”.

The US State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs said it was “still urgently awaiting action to uphold and implement the agreement”.

“Vulnerable Ethiopians in Tigray, Afar and Amhara need help now,” he said on Twitter, referring to neighboring war-affected areas.

He also quoted Redwan as saying in Nairobi that aid would be flowing through unimpeded “by the end of the week”.

Ethiopia’s National Disaster Risk Management Commission, which coordinates Ethiopia’s aid, said earlier Friday it would provide an update but did not respond to subsequent requests for comment.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia did not respond to a request for comment.

Military commanders attending the talks hosted by the African Union in Nairobi on Friday also sought to work out details for the disarmament of Tigray forces, among other measures.

Observers have expressed concern over when Eritrean and other forces that were not party to the ceasefire will withdraw from Tigray. The Eritrean government has not said whether it will honor the ceasefire agreement.

On Friday, Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reporting by Tommy Reggiori Wilkes and Ayenat Mersie; Editing by James Macharia Chege, Tomasz Janowski and John Stonestreet

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