United Nations spokesman on Wednesday referred to ongoing violence in Ethiopia as “saddening and shocking” after the latest attack in which more than 50 people were killed in an air strike.
The attack on Tuesday hit a school in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region that was sheltering people displaced by the conflict between the federal and regional governments, two aid workers and Tigray forces said.
The air strike in the town of Adi Daero, some 40 km from the border with Eritrea, appears to be one of the deadliest carried out during the nearly two-year war, which has killed thousands and uprooted millions.
“The kinds of numbers that we keep talking about every week are frankly saddening and shocking for what is, in the end, a manmade humanitarian crisis,” United Nations spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said.
The school was on a list of sites housing internally displaced persons (IDPs) that the Office of the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ethiopia sent to Ethiopia’s foreign ministry in January, according to one of the aid workers and two UN sources.
A range of Ethiopian government and military officials did not respond to Reuters requests for comment on the air strike or the letter. The government has previously denied targeting civilians in the conflict.
Reuters could not independently verify details of the air strike or the death toll. Most communications have been down for over a year in Tigray, where the federal government has been battling regional forces since November 2020.
Survivors of the strike told humanitarian workers after fleeing to the town of Shire, about 25 km (15 miles) away, that at least 50 people had been killed and more than 70 injured, an aid worker in Shire told Reuters.
The survivors said they had heard what sounded like a drone, this aid worker said.
Fighting resumed in Tigray and neighbouring areas in late August after a five-month ceasefire broke down. Intense combat and air strikes have been reported across the region since then.
Ethiopia’s government said on Wednesday it had accepted an invitation by the African Union to participate in peace talks this weekend. Tigray’s regional government has not yet responded to the invitation.