Ethiopian soldiers destroyed UNICEF satellite equipment in war-torn Tigray on Monday, the UN agency said in a statement condemning the attack.
“Members of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces entered our office in Mekele, Tigray, Ethiopia today and dismantled our VSAT equipment,” the United Nations Children’s Fund said in a statement, referring to satellite machinery.
“UNICEF’s priority in Tigray, and across Ethiopia, is to help the most vulnerable children, including the 140,000 children already facing famine-like conditions. We are not, and should never be, a target,” the statement added.
A spokesman for the UN secretary-general Stephane Dujarric condemned “any and all attacks on humanitarian workers and assets” during a daily press conference.
“All parties must ensure the protection of civilians and all humanitarian assistance provided by the United Nations.”
UNICEF warned earlier this month that tens of thousands of malnourished children were at risk of dying in the Tigray region, which has been mired in conflict between federal troops and the regional ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front since last November.
Intense fighting has persisted throughout the region, with mounting reports of massacres and widespread sexual violence.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government announced a unilateral ceasefire Monday, state media reported, signaling a potential turning point.
Ethiopian authorities deny the humanitarian situation in the northern region is as dire as aid agencies say, even as the UN cautions some 350,000 have been pushed to the brink of famine.