Ethiopia suspends three humanitarian groups in Tigray

Wednesday August 04 2021
Tigray refugees

Ethiopian refugees who fled the Tigray conflict gather to receive aid. The Ethiopian government has suspended the activities of three foreign humanitarian organisations which have been working in Tigray. PHOTO | AFP


The Ethiopian government has suspended the activities of three foreign humanitarian organisations which have been working in the restive northern Tigray region.

Ethiopia's Agency for Civil Society Organisations on Wednesday said that it had identified rule violations by the three aid groups namely Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Maktoume Foundation, while monitoring their activities.

"MSF and the Norwegian Refugee Council have been disseminating misinformation on social media and other platforms outside of the mandate and purpose for which the organisations were permitted to operate," the agency said in a statement it issued on Wednesday.

It said MSF has illegally imported and used satellite radio communication equipment which was not authorised by the relevant authorities

It added that MSF staff workers who were in possession of the equipment were apprehended by the security forces for using it for illegal purposes.

The agency also accused the three aid organisations of employing foreign nationals for more than six months without the appropriate work permits from the Ethiopian government.


Covid-19 protocols

Maktoume Foundation's operations were suspended over what the agency said was failure to comply with the Ministry of Education Covid-19 protocols, budget mismanagement and problems with staff management.

"Despite repeated discussions with the executives of the three organisations, they were unable to fix the situation," the Ethiopian state said.

The agency stated that the activities of the three organisations have been suspended for three months until a final decision is made.

Last month, the Ethiopian government said that some aid agencies are engaged in undisclosed "destructive acts" and warned that it will expel them if they do not refrain from the said activities.

The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths, at a press conference in Addis Ababa, said that "such blanket allegations are unfair and need to be backed up by evidence".

Griffiths, who visited Tigray, also said that some progress had been made on aid delivery to the troubled region.

Close to 200 World Food Programme trucks which had been stopped in Afar region after an attack have now reached Tigray.

About 100 such trucks need to enter Tigray every day, Griffiths said, adding the needs are "huge, they are urgent".

According to UN figures, hundreds of thousands of people in Tigray are currently facing famine.

The conflict in Tigray, which broke out in November last year, has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people and displaced more than two million others.