The attack condemned by the UNICEF is said to have hit a kindergarten, killing at least two children
The UN children’s agency, UNICEF, has condemned a fresh outbreak of violence in the African nation of Ethiopia witnessing a conflict between the federal troops and local militias in the northern region of Tigray. Over the weekend, an alleged airstrike killed at least four people in a kindergarten in Tigray, sparking and angry response from the UN agency.
“UNICEF strongly condemns the air strike in Mekelle, the capital city of the Tigray Region, Ethiopia,” the agency said in a statement on Saturday, calling on all warring parties to stop the hostilities immediately.
“Yet again, an escalation of violence in northern Ethiopia has caused children to pay the heaviest price. For almost two years, children and their families in the region have endured the agony of this conflict. It must end,” the UNICEF added.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) said an airstrike carried out by the federal troops destroyed a kindergarten in Mekelle and hit a civilian residential area in the city. According to the head of a local hospital, at least four people died in the attack, including two children. Nine others were injured. A local broadcaster put the death toll at seven.
The Ethiopian government denied striking civilian targets and instead accused the TPLF of staging the attack and “dumping fake body bags in civilian areas” to provoke international outrage. Both claims could not be independently verified.
The alleged strike came just days after violence erupted in Ethiopia’s northern region following a five-month ceasefire. On Wednesday, both sides of the conflict accused each other of attacking each other as fresh offensives were launched along Tigray’s southern border.
The fresh outbreak of violence was condemned by western officials, including the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, and the UK Africa minister, Vicky Ford. Lenarcic urged all parties to start peace talks while Ford called the strikes in Tigray “appalling.”
The WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, himself a native of Tigray, said he was “at a loss for words” at the sight of “horrifying images” from Mekelle and denounced the alleged attack as “barbaric.”
In November 2020, a political strife between the newly formed broad alliance of regional ethnic political parties led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the TPLF, which itself was once part of Ethiopia’s ruling coalition, led to a military conflict that has been lasting ever since.
In March, the UN said that at least 304 civilians had been killed in airstrikes over the three previous months in northern Ethiopia.