Aid delivery in Tigray at stake after Tekeze River bridge is destroyed

Friday July 02 2021
Tekeze Bridge

Tekeze Bridge which was destroyed on July 1, 2021. PHOTO | POOL


A bridge over Tekeze River, which has been a crucial gateway to supplying food aid to  many parts of Tigray region, has been destroyed.

Mr Roger Sandberg from the Medical Teams International, who was at the bridge three hours after it was blown on Thursday morning, said aid workers were struggling to deliver basic items to displaced people in Tigray

“[I] Tried driving from Shire Tigray, Ethiopia, to Gondar (not my first attempt). This bridge was blown three hours before I arrived. Humanitarian access along with key supply routes are all being destroyed. I hate war! Civilians only at the bridge" he said in a social media post.

"They [civilians] are cut off from family, livestock, agriculture and we cannot get meds, food and fuel. Cease fire was not real. Civilians lose, suffer, die,” he added.

Earlier, the International Rescue Committee IRC) also confirmed the destruction of the bridge. It said that delivery of food aid would be “even more severely hampered than before”

IRC said it was "deeply saddened" by the destruction adding that it would continue to call on the Ethiopian government for unlimited humanitarian assistance to the Tigray region.


The World Food Programme Spokesperson Peter Smerdon told the media: “The bridge's destruction will have an impact, but we are currently assessing how much of an impact and whether there is an alternative route we could use to bring in urgently needed food stocks from Gondar to our warehouses in Shire."

Nation.Africa couldn't independently verify who might have carried out the attack.

However, sources from Mekelle said the destruction of the key bridge came as Tigray Defence Forces advanced towards the river area to chase combatant forces who had not yet pulled out of Tigray.

A local aid agency head who refused to be named told Nation.Africa that the destruction of the bridge will halt their relief operations to western Tigray which were occupied by Amhara and Eritrean forces.

"The people in western and central Tigray are the most affected by the conflict and the destruction of the bridge will put tens of thousands of people at imminent risk of starvation" he added.

Mr Girmay Assefa, a Tigrayan politician said: "Destruction of the bridge was a desperate attempt ENDF and mainly by Amhara forces to slow down Tigray forces who are advancing over them"

The Amhara regional spokesman, Gizachew Muluneh, told the AP an investigation would be carried out into the bridge’s destruction. 

Ethiopian military spokesman Col.  Getinet Adane said: "We have the information about it but it will be disclosed in a press conference."

The spokesman for the Tigray forces this week told The AP that they would "liberate" every territory of the region from "enemies" including the Ethiopian forces, Amhara forces and soldiers from neighbouring Eritrea.

Amhara authorities have warned the Tigray forces against trying to enter the region to retake western Tigray areas which remain occupied by Amhara forces following the eruption of Tigray conflict.

The bridge incident comes one day after Mr Redwan Hussein said that the unilateral ceasefire means the government will be responsible for any problems that occur in Tigray.

He said the TPLF, which has been branded as a terrorist entity, will take full responsibility for any peace disruption including attacks on aid workers or blockade to aid supply.