Ethiopia State of Emergency Fact Check Task Force on Friday dismissed claims that “humanitarian access” to Tigray region is blocked as incorrect.
It said that the Ethiopian government consistently expressed interest in working closely with aid agencies with the aim to facilitate travel to and from Tigray.
The Task Force has released a statement. It reads as follows :
Statement on humanitarian flight arrangements to Tigray
The Government of Ethiopia repeatedly affirmed that it would closely work with Humanitarian operators following its bold and magnanimous declaration of the Unilateral Humanitarian Ceasefire in Tigray. Although the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority has closed the northern part of airspace for all kinds of flights below flight level 290 since 30/05/21, the Ethiopian Government has announced on Monday, July 5, 2021, that it gave special permission to fly for all interested parties to provide humanitarian services in the Tigray region while the airspace closure is going on.
In this regard, the Government of Ethiopia would like to underscore that it has not denied any request for a flight of goods and passengers to the Tigray Region. In fact, The WFP has requested flight permission yesterday for two airplanes that intend to fly passengers to the Tigray Region.
To better facilitate such requests, the Federal Government issued guidelines containing instructions and information that humanitarian operators should strictly adhere to to get permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and other pertinent bodies. In this regard, the Government has clearly stated that all flights coming from abroad or domestic airports in Ethiopia must first land at Addis Ababa airport before proceeding to Tigray. Flights coming from the prohibited airspace must also land at Addis Ababa airport before proceeding abroad or a domestic airport in Ethiopia.
As detailed in the guidelines, all operators must submit and get approval for flight details, such as flight number, type of aircraft, the purpose of the flight, details of passenger, and type of cargo before conducting flight operations. It is also stated that standard search shall be conducted at Addis Ababa Bole international airport on all departing and arriving aircraft, cargos, passengers, crews, and including bulky cargos which might need dismantling for search and screening. The federal Government also requires all passenger and cargo airplane flights to carry people or equipment related to only humanitarian aid missions.
Despite the above-stated arrangements and the Federal Government’s willingness to work closely with humanitarian operators, some reports, mistakenly or otherwise, have continued to misinform the international community as if the Government of Ethiopia has been obstructing flights into the Tigray region.
In this regard, the Government of Ethiopia has written a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations protesting the unconstructive actions of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) that do not commensurate with the fruitful and productive relations that Ethiopia has built with the organization since 1984. The federal Government believes that the engagement of the UNOCHA, through its inaccurate reports and statements in depicting the situation in Tigray, has not been helpful and constructive since the beginning of the law enforcement operation in the Tigray Regional State.
The Federal Government also is under the impression that OCHA’s statements and reports seem to be framed to encourage and compliment the TPLF that have continued to fuel misperception and led the international community to misconstrue the situation in the region. It is also revealing that the Office continues to refer to the outlawed group, which the Ethiopian parliament categorized as a terrorist organization, as the Tigrayan Defense Force (TDF). The Government of Ethiopia would like to request the Office to refrain from issuing biased and misleading statements and take corrective action soon to avoid detrimental effects on the longstanding cooperation between the Ethiopian Government and the organization.
The Federal Government of Ethiopia would like to announce that details of the guidelines on the flight arrangements to the Tigray Region will soon be communicated to all stakeholders and interested parties, and the public via appropriate channels.