Ethiopia’s government has admitted to firing on a United Nations team visiting refugees in the embattled Tigray region.
Despite taking responsibility for firing at the U.N. staffers, a spokesperson says the workers, who were in the town of Shire, ignored instructions and drove through government checkpoints.
“They broke two checkpoints to drive hastily to areas where they were not supposed to go, that they were told not to go,” Ethiopian government spokesman Redwan Hussein told reporters. “They were left alone when (and) they broke two checkpoints, and when they were about to break the third one, they were shot at and detained. Now, of course they are free.”
“This country isn’t no man’s land. It has a government,” he added.
The struggle between Ethiopia and Tigray continues to escalate.
Organizations have stepped forward to offer independent investigations into the month-long conflict, but Abiy’s government is rejecting any interference from outsiders.
“The agreement we entered with the U.N. was in the belief that the U.N. would coordinate with us but the government would call the shots,” Redwan said. “Ethiopia is being run by a strong functional government,” he added. “It doesn’t need a babysitter.”
Human rights organizations have sounded alarm bells as Ethiopia has been accused of preventing relief packages from being delivered to the Tigray region.
The Norwegian Refugee Council claims to have waited weeks for clearance to deliver food, shelters and other essentials.
“Children, women and men in Tigray have now borne the brunt of this conflict for more than a month without any emergency assistance from outside the region,” it said via Reuters. “These people can no longer be made to wait. Aid must not be left at a standstill.”