There is more to be done to bring aid to Tigray, says expert

In an exclusive interview with Today News Africa Correspondent, Lindsey O’Neal, Michelle Gavin, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and former US Ambassador to Botswana, gave insight into the humanitarian crisis in Tigray.

“Humanitarian access has been the major first order of business in the international community’s response to this crisis,” said Gavin. “The issue has been one of access, and the World Food Program and Medecins Sans Frontieres, who are very adept in operating in remote and complex security environments, have struggled to get on the ground.”

The violence in Tigray, which began last November, came to a head after decades of tension between Eritrea and the former dominating party of Ethiopia, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF.

A long standing, violent war officially ceased in the mid-90s, due to the ascension of current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, but animosity between Tigrayans and Eritreans continued.

Although the conflict was denied for months, evidence is clear that violent human rights atrocities are happening, including rape, murder, violence, military control, and famine.

Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of State, condemned the violence and urged Prime Minister Abiy to pull out troops, which Prime Minister Abiy recently did, and announced that the US would contribute an additional $52 million in aid to support the region.

On the ground, complex security barriers and bureaucratic obstacles have slowed aid to Tigrayans.

With more scrutiny, the situation has improved, but it is nowhere near where the international community wants it. There are still over 60,000 refugees moving into nearby countries, including Sudan, which has been reported by the Washington Post to be a deadly and devastating journey.

“[There needs to be] more access for humanitarians and aid, more access for journalists, and more honesty in discussing what’s going on,” said Gavin. “There is more to be done.”

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