Eritrean forces stop UN mission in Tigray, Ethiopia, aid workers tell CNN

By Gianluca Mezzofiore, Bethlehem Feleke and Eve Brennan, CNN

CNN  —  Eritrean forces prevented a mission led by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) deputy head of Ethiopia from entering a village in Tigray on Thursday, aid workers on the ground told CNN.

“On 25 May 2023, a mission led by UNOCHA deputy head of Ethiopia comprised from UNOCHA, UNDSS, WHO and other INGOs were prohibited from entering Gemhalo village in Tahtay Adiyabo woreda (district) by Eritrean forces,” they said.

“The mission was stopped after travelling 16km from Sheraro around Waela-Nihbi. Eritrean forces are in Tigray in close distance from Sheraro occupying five kebeles (neighborhoods) of Tahtay-Adiyabo woreda,” they added.

“Looting, destructing infrastructures, raping are continued. Eritrean forces are committing all forms of violations in the villages including denying humanitarian access to those areas,” they said.

The Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front signed a deal to end hostilities in November last year that included withdrawing all foreign forces from the north of the country.

In January, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said at a press conference in Nairobi that Eritrean troops were still in Ethiopia, contradicting authorities in Addis Ababa.

“We understand that they have moved back to the border, and they have been asked to leave Ethiopia,” she told reporters.

Eritrean forces also recently prevented “an African Union [peace] monitoring and verification team from carrying out their activities,” said Getachew Reda, the head of Tigray’s interim government. Tigrayan authorities continue to discuss the issue with the Ethiopian government, he added, saying, “it must be resolved.”

CNN has reached out to the Eritrean and the Ethiopian government for comment.

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