The government of Norway has condemned the destruction of humanitarian aid facilities in Ethiopia, where the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) aid group is trying to assist those affected by conflict in the Tigray region.
“All parties must fulfill their obligations under international humanitarian law,” the foreign ministry said in response to an NRC report detailing the damage. “Refugees, humanitarians, schools and clinics are not a target.”
The NRC said Monday that satellite imagery confirmed that its buildings, including a school and a health clinic, were damaged and burned down in the Hitsaats and Shimelba refugee camps. The imagery from DX Open Network, a UK-based analyst group, shows the damage occurred between January 5 and January 8.
The camps offered shelter to an estimated 25,000 Eritrean refugees, with up to 80 percent of them now unaccounted for.
The NRC, echoing the complaints of other human rights and humanitarian aid NGOs working in the region, said it was impossible to otherwise independently verify the facility damage and status of refugees because Ethiopia will not permit aid organizations any access to the region. Most rural areas remain cut off to aid workers.
“Thirteen long weeks without being able to go in, respond effectively and verify the status of our humanitarian assets is simply unacceptable,” said Jan Egeland, secretary general of NRC.
“We cannot say it enough. The humanitarian community requires unrestricted access to all parts of Tigray to assess the needs and damage, and provide urgent life-saving assistance.”
Image: NRC/DX Open Network