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Rights Commissioner Urges Access for Humanitarian Aid, Media in Tigray

February 22 , 2021

Full access needs to be granted to humanitarian aid agencies and the international and domestic media to improve war impacted situation in Tigray Regional State, Daniel Bekele, commissioner of the Human Rights Commission, told a virtual panel held today.

Daniel believes the most consequential impact of the war has been the complete collapse of local administrative functions.

The panel was organised at a time when information on what has been unfolding in Tigray is hard to comeby and people there are deprived of essential provisions. Tens of thousands have fled for their lives and millions are internally displaced. The frustrations among aide workers is building up and most reflected in Jan Egeland, head of Norwegian Refugee Council, one of the four panelists invited to speak at a panel the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), based in Washington DC., organised. The virtual panel called to discuss on how to restore humanitarian access in Ethiopia.

Daniel believes the situation on the humanitarian aid has seen much improvements recently, although he admitted there are needs for coordinations between aid agencies and the Ethiopian government, although there is not much appreciation of the media's presence on the ground. He calls for better understanding by the international community of the situations and the context on the ground.

Egeland rebuked the assertion from Daniel pressing that he wants to call "a spade a spade". Only one of the 53 applications for visa his agency made before Ethiopian authorities has been granted, and the staff member who was issued a visa is already in Tigray.

"The truth is, we've been denied access while women and children are bleeding," said Egeland. "Suffering is happening while we're doing nothing but observe from a distance. We don't know what is happening in Tigray."

He characterized the situation in Tigray as a place where there "zero access."

"Ethiopia is an extremely important country," said Egeland. "It needs our attention and we've to be there for them."

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