The United Nations on Monday expressed frustration that talks with the Ethiopian government had not yet brought humanitarian access to the dissident northern region of Tigray.
Fighting broke out in Tigray in early November when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military offensive against the region’s ruling party, and a blackout has ensured that information about the conflict remains scarce.
The UN has finalized agreements with Ethiopian authorities over humanitarian access and assessment missions, but has yet to see concrete progress.
“It’s somewhat frustrating to say that we have not been able to go in, we have not been able to reach people that we know are in need,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
“Days wasted by a lack of agreement or a lack of green light for us is just one more day of suffering for the people who need help.”
At the request of the United States and European members, the Security Council held an informal, closed-door videoconference on Monday on the humanitarian situation in Tigray.
“We need full, safe, unhindered access for humanitarian workers. We have information that refugee camps will run out of food by the end of this week,” said Germany’s UN ambassador Christoph Heusgen after the meeting.
“We have information that refugees are prevented from fleeing to Sudan… There are also reports that Eritrean soldiers appear to control some movement of refugees in the Eritrean border region. Again, all this must stop.”
According to diplomats, China and African members of the Security Council — South Africa, Niger and Tunisia — opposed the publication of a statement on Tigray requested by Germany, Estonia and the Dominican Republic.
Abiy has resisted calls for mediation to end the conflict, which has left thousands dead, according to the International Crisis Group think tank, and has driven 50,000 refugees into Sudan.