In renewed Ethiopia fighting, Tigray forces on Wednesday looted 570,000 litres of fuel from the United Nations (UN) for aid distribution trucks, further undermining humanitarian work, a UN spokesman said.
The World Food Programme warehouse in Mekelle, capital of the Tigray region, was forcibly entered by Tigray forces who took 12 full fuel tankers with 570,000 liters of fuel, said Stephane Dujarric, chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.
The team at the warehouse unsuccessfully tried to prevent the looting, he said.
These fuel stocks were to be used solely for humanitarian purposes, for the distribution of food, fertiliser and other emergency relief items.
This loss of fuel will impact humanitarian operations supporting communities in all of northern Ethiopia, said Dujarric.
“We condemn any looting or confiscation of humanitarian goods or humanitarian premises, and we call on all parties to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law and to respect humanitarian personnel, activities, assets and goods,” he told a regular press briefing.
“We are very concerned for the civilians in front-line areas and call on all parties to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure their protection,” he added.
Ethiopia is facing a very difficult humanitarian situation, to say the least, as the country is facing its worst drought in the past 40 years, said the spokesman.
Some 17 million people are now targeted for assistance as worsening levels of malnutrition are reported.
More than 3.5 million heads of livestock have died, he said. Parts of the country face a risk of flooding in the coming weeks and more than 1.7 million people are likely to be impacted, including more than 400,000 men, women and children at risk of displacement, he said.