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April 21, 2021
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Ethiopian gov’t says, “gravely concerned by politically motivated misinformation”

Ethiopian government responded to allegations regarding the situations in Tigray. Much of it is a politically motivated misinformation campaign, it was said

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The situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia has been making headlines in major international media outlets since the launch of what the Ethiopian calls law enforcement operation against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. 

Most of the coverage, if not all, painted the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed administration in a negative light to the point that it appeared as if the Ethiopian Defense Force was waging war against Ethiopians in Tigray region.

And it appears most of the coverages were to a large extent informed by well-financed social media campaigns of  pro-TPLF groups living outside of Ethiopia. Humanitarian situations, human rights violations and media inaccessibility were some issues for which the government was highly criticized through media narratives. The outcome was that a significant number of actors including in the humanitarian assistance sector, human rights and some state actors have been giving negative remarks. That would inevitably could have undesirable  political repercussions. 

Abiy Ahmed’s government was also criticized by those who seem to support it ; for a different reason.  They thought it failed in the infowar and that it had to mobilize resources to respond to the misinformation campaign. 

And it seems that the government is responding to it. On Wednesday, the office of the Prime Minister released updates regarding the situation in the Tigray region. 

And the statement tried to address allegations by media outlets. 

According to the government,  34 districts in the region ( and all the districts are 36 ) were provided with humanitarian assistance (both food and non-food items including medical supplies). More than 3.1 million people have received humanitarian assistance it described as “significant progress.” About ten international organizations were involved in the delivery of food. 

The statement also claimed that 70 percent of the humanitarian assistance was provided by the Ethiopian government.  It was also indicated that among those benefited from the assistance are a group of people who were identified as “food insecure” before the Ethiopian government launched its “law enforcement campaign.” 

Another point that the statement from the Prime Minister’s office made was that the humanitarian assistance decision was based on “joint assessment” of the situation by humanitarian experts. 

The statement also addressed allegations of human rights violations, accessibility and media access. 

Regarding humanitarian accessibility , the statement squarely put it that “coordination of humanitarian assistance remains the mandate of the Federal government,facilitated by the ministry of peace.” 

However, it was indicated that more than 135 personnel of bilateral and multilateral aid organizations were issued with clearance to travel to the Tigray region of Ethiopia for assistance work.  29 international organizations are operating in the region, according to the government. 

In terms of media access, at least seven journalists from international media outlets including Al Jazeera, BBC, AFP, New York Times, France 24, BBC and Financial Times were given access, and the claim that there is “no media access” – is a “false representation of the situation,” it was said. 

The statement also remarked about claims of human rights violations. It said that Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has investigated it and that the government will act on it. 

However, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government emphasized that exaggerated representation of the situation – humanitarian and human rights – in the region is politically motivated, and it related to what it called criminal clique’s. 

“The criminal clique’s well financed networks abroad continue to employ the use of digital media and other means to portray an exaggerated or misleading account of events unfolding on the ground.” 

And it made it clear that the government is concerned about it. 

However, the statement did not mention two security incidents involving the killings of civilians and attacks on infrastructure. Last week, at least six university students were killed by TPLF forces when travelling from Mekelle to Addis Ababa after a convocation ceremony.  

A week before that electric power line supplying electricity to most of the Tigray region was attacked leaving the entire region in power outage once again. At this writing, the government announced that the line is fixed and that power is back in Mekelle city. 

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