The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) said that it had only taken the fuel it had lent to the United Nations months back and it didn’t commit any robberies.
TPLF said this in response to an allegation from the World Food Programme (WFP) that accused of it looting 570,000 litres of fuel from the UN agency’s warehouse in Mekele.
David Beasley, head of the U.N.’s World Food Program, described the alleged theft as “outrageous and disgraceful” and urged the TPLF to return the fuel.
Tigray leaders termed the allegation “unhelpful” and criticized David Beazley and the World Food Program.
Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, told reporters that Tigrayan forces on the morning of August 24, “forcibly entered” the World Food Program Warehouse in Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, and “stole” 12 truck tankers of oil (570,000 litres).
“These stocks of fuel would be used solely for humanitarian purposes with the distribution of food, fertilisers and other emergency relief items,” Dujarric said in a statement.
“We are profoundly disturbed by WFP Executive Director David Beasley’s unhelpful public outburst, accusing the Government of Tigray of “stealing” fuel tankers belonging to the WFP, Tigray leaders said in a statement.
“The Executive Director should have known better than to make such incendiary allegations without digesting the full set of facts surrounding the issue, the statement said. “The Government of Tigray has not “stolen” any fuel tankers. It had loaned over six hundred thousand liters of fuel to the WFP, and it simply demanded that it be paid back in accordance with the agreement we had,” it added. Tigray region administrators in the statement the fuel will be used to run basic services, such as hospitals, clinics, and other health facilities across Tigray.
Ethiopia’s government has joined the WFP in condemning Tigrayan forces for allegedly stealing the fuel, saying TPLF committed the crime in order to carry out their attacks in and around Kobo. In addition to this, the government spokesperson said TPLF has also arrested humanitarian aid workers who tried to stop the looting.