New York

22 October 2021

Note to Correspondents: Statement by Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator - on Ethiopia

Today, a UN humanitarian flight in Ethiopia destined for Mekelle in Tigray was forced to return to Addis Ababa due to air strikes in Mekelle – an incident that raises serious concerns for the safety of humanitarian staff who are working to help civilians in humanitarian need.
UN and non-governmental organizations are making every effort to continue delivering assistance to millions of people in desperate need in Tigray, Amhara and Afar. Conflict dynamics make this increasingly difficult.
The UN had not received any prior warning of the attacks on Mekelle and had received the necessary clearances for the flight.
I reiterate our grave concern for civilians as air strikes on Mekelle continue and as humanitarian assistance into Tigray remains insufficient. I am also increasingly alarmed about the impact of fighting in Amhara and Afar regions and the worsening toll on civilians.
All precautions must be taken to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure. Under international humanitarian law, all parties to the conflict must take constant care to spare civilians and civilian objects from harm, including humanitarian personnel and assets.