On Sunday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told reporters that some aid agencies were suspending operations in an area where a deadly airstrike struck an internally displaced persons camp.
“Humanitarian partners have suspended activities in the region amid persistent threats from drone strikes“, explained the agency, adding that some partners continued to operate.
According to the agency, the latest attack occurred at midnight on Friday in the town of Dedebit, and “claimed dozens of civilian casualties, including deaths.”
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF) said the attack left 56 dead, while an official at the region’s main hospital in the capital Mekele said 55 dead and 126 injured.
Despite reports that aid workers have suspended activities in the region, OCHA said on Monday that some partners continued to operate around Dedebit, amid a continuing threat of drone strikes.
Due to security and access issues, OCHA was unable to verify the number of victims.
In another statement released on Sunday, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) expressed outrage at the attack and another two days earlier, on January 5.
The agency stressed that the camps for refugees and internally displaced people, including schools and other essential facilities, are civilian facilities. Failure to respect and protect these areas by combatants may constitute a violation of international humanitarian law.
According to UNICEF, acts of violence, including grave violations against children, continue to be perpetrated in northern Ethiopia by all parties to the conflict.
14 month war
It has now been 14 months since clashes broke out between federal government troops and forces loyal to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray.
Reiterating its call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, UNICEF urged all parties to build on the first signs of progress in recent weeks.
In December, the Ethiopian government announced that the National Defense Force would suspend further advancement, and Tigrayan forces said they had withdrawn from neighboring Afar and Amhara regions, returning to Tigray.
At the time, UN Secretary General António Guterres urged the belligerents to seize the opportunity to end more than a year of fighting.
Meanwhile, a wider humanitarian crisis continues to wreak havoc in parts of Ethiopia. Some 5.2 million people are currently in need of assistance in the northern regions of Tigray, Amhara and Afar.
Amid allegations of widespread human rights violations, thousands of people are believed to be killed as more than two million have been forced to flee their homes.
And in recent months, killings, looting and destruction of health centers and agricultural infrastructure, including irrigation systems essential for production, have resulted in increased humanitarian needs.
According to UN aid workers, the situation in the north of the country remains unpredictable and volatile.