The Tuesday confirmation of the incident -- which took place as a UN security team was seeking access to the Shimelba camp for Eritrean refugees on Sunday -- came as UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric expressed concerns about the shooting, noting that there were four people in the UN team assessing roads in the area for aid deliveries.
“These are alarming reports and we are engaging at the highest level with the federal government to express our concern and avoid any such incidents in the future,” Dujarric said, adding that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had discussed the matter with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Monday.
Spokesman for the Ethiopian government’s task force for Tigray, Redwan Hussein, alleged in a press briefing that the UN team had passed through two checkpoints without stopping while driving hastily to an unauthorized area.
“When they were about to break the third one, they were shot at and detained,” he added.
“The agreement we entered with the UN was in the belief that the UN would coordinate with us but the government would call the shots,” Redwan said, emphasizing that Ethiopia was capable of helping its own people.
He also said the government would investigate any reports of atrocities or mass killings and allow independent probes if needed. “Ethiopia is being run by a strong functional government,” he added. “It doesn’t need a babysitter.”
While telling reporters in New York that talks with Ethiopian authorities on aid access were continuing, Dujarric, however, added, “Are we getting unfettered, clear, humanitarian access at this point – no.”