Two international aid agencies on Friday said four staff members were killed during last month’s fighting in Ethiopia’s troubled northern Tigray region.
The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) reported the deaths of three security guards, while the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said one of its staff members had been killed.
An estimated 600,000 people in Tigray were dependent on food aid before the fighting began, including 96,000 refugees from neighboring Eritrea.
When Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered troops into Tigray on November 4, following alleged attacks by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces, aid workers were left stranded and vulnerable.
A communications blackout imposed by the government combined with tight restrictions on access to Tigray has made it very difficult for aid agencies to confirm the whereabouts and safety of their staff in the area.
DRC said it was “deeply saddened to confirm the death of three colleagues,” adding that its “workers are at the forefront of the humanitarian imperative to provide assistance to those in need.
“Sadly, due to the lack of communications and ongoing insecurity in the region, it has not yet been possible to reach their families,” a statement said.
In another statement, IRC said it “regrets to confirm the killing of a staff member in Hitsats Refugee Camp in Shire.”
“Our in-country staff are the very heart of our work and are key in our ability to provide support and assistance to our clients,” it said.
“Communication with the area is extremely difficult and we are still working to gather and confirm the details surrounding the events.”
Despite Abiy’s declaration of victory on November 28, the UN and aid agencies have said fighting continues.