British government confirms it is considering an air-bridge to feed Tigray, but has not asked Eritrea for its ports to be opened

This information is contained in a series of important replies to question tabled in the House of Commons by Andrew Mitchell, MP.

Andrew Mitchell is not just a Conservative member of parliament, he was previously Minister in the Development Ministry, and his views and concerns are therefore taken seriously.

James Duddridge, the British government’s Africa Minister, gave the following information.

The British government has:

  • decided not to ask the Eritrean government to allow its ports to be used for aid deliveries, prefering to put pressure on Asmara to pull its troops out of Tigray,
  • confirms it is considering an air-bridge (along with the EU), but at this point assess that airdrops would not be a viable response to the current situation,
  • can estimate how many are close to starvation, but has no figure for how many have already died.

The questions and answers are reproduced below in full.


Tigray: Humanitarian Aid

Source: Hansard

Mr Andrew Mitchell
Conservative
Sutton Coldfield
 Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions his Department has had with the Eritrean Government on using their ports for humanitarian supplies to be transported to Tigray in Ethiopia.

Answer

James Duddridge
Conservative
Rochford and Southend East
 Commons

Answered on

20 July 2021

The UK Government is deeply concerned about the grave humanitarian situation in Ethiopia and shares the concerns outlined in the report on 24 June by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Ensuring assistance gets to those who need it most remains our priority in Tigray. We continue to explore all options with partners to expand humanitarian access by both air and land. We have not discussed access for humanitarian supplies with the Government of Eritrea given the destabilising role their forces continue to play in the conflict . We are focussed on securing the complete, immediate and verifiable withdrawal of all Eritrean troops from Tigray in order to help humanitarian relief efforts.

On 14 June I [Minister Duddridge] announced that the UK will allocate a further £16.7 million to the crisis in Tigray. This will support civil-military coordination to help aid get to those in need and address famine risk through the provision of healthcare, sanitation, and nutritional support. This allocation is on top of the existing £27 million in 2020-21 already directed to the response, and an additional £4 million allocated to support nutrition and vaccinations in Tigray. This brings UK total funding to support response to the crisis to £47.7 million. We continue to urge all parties to the conflict to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law.

Question

Mr Andrew Mitchell
Conservative
Sutton Coldfield
 Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Sudanese counterpart on the viability of transporting aid through Sudan to the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

Answer

James Duddridge
Conservative
Rochford and Southend East
 Commons

Answered on

20 July 2021

The UK Government is deeply concerned about the grave humanitarian situation in Ethiopia and shares the concerns outlined in the report on 24 June by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Ensuring assistance gets to those who need it most remains our priority in Tigray. We continue to explore all options with partners to expand humanitarian access by both air and land. During his visit to Sudan the Foreign Secretary commended Sudan’s leaders for their efforts to press for a peaceful resolution to the situation in Tigray and for their support for refugees entering Sudan from Ethiopia. There is currently no viable land route from Sudan into Tigray due to ongoing fighting in Western Tigray although we continue to monitor the logistical and political viability of this route and are engaging the Government of Sudan to support any route that becomes available.

On 14 June I [Minister Duddridge] announced that the UK will allocate a further £16.7 million to the crisis in Tigray. This will support civil-military coordination to help aid get to those in need and address famine risk through the provision of healthcare, sanitation, and nutritional support. This allocation is on top of the existing £27 million in 2020-21 already directed to the response, and an additional £4 million allocated to support nutrition and vaccinations in Tigray. This brings UK total funding to support response to the crisis to £47.7 million. We continue to urge all parties to the conflict to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law.

Question

Mr Andrew Mitchell
Conservative
Sutton Coldfield
 Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the potential merits of deploying RAF coordinated airdrops of food and other essentials into the Tigray Region in Ethiopia.

Answer

James Duddridge
Conservative
Rochford and Southend East
 Commons

Answered on

20 July 2021

The UK Government is deeply concerned about the grave humanitarian situation in Ethiopia and shares the concerns outlined in the report on 24 June by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Ensuring assistance gets to those who need it most remains our priority in Tigray. We continue to explore all options with partners to expand humanitarian access by both air and land including the possibility of air bridges into Tigray. At this point the FCDO assess that airdrops would not be a viable response to the current situation.

On 14 June I [Minister Duddridge] announced that the UK will allocate a further £16.7 million to the crisis in Tigray. This will support civil-military coordination to help aid get to those in need and address famine risk through the provision of healthcare, sanitation, and nutritional support. This allocation is on top of the existing £27 million in 2020-21 already directed to the response, and an additional £4 million allocated to support nutrition and vaccinations in Tigray. This brings UK total funding to support response to the crisis to £47.7 million. We continue to urge all parties to the conflict to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law.

Question

Mr Andrew Mitchell
Conservative
Sutton Coldfield
 Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent estimate his Department has made of the number of Tigrayans who (a) are classified as facing a famine and (b) have already died as a result of famine conditions.

Answer

James Duddridge
Conservative
Rochford and Southend East
 Commons

Answered on

20 July 2021

The UK Government is deeply concerned about the grave humanitarian situation in Ethiopia and shares the concerns outlined in the report on 24 June by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification report in June reported high levels of food insecurity in Tigray. It concluded more than 3 million people are in ‘crisis’, nearly 2.1 million in ’emergency’ and 353,000 in ‘catastrophe’ states, per the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) levels.

On 14 June, I [Minister Duddridge] announced that the UK will reallocate a further £16.7 million to the crisis in Tigray. This will support civil-military coordination to help aid get to those in need and address famine risk through the provision of healthcare, sanitation, and nutritional support. This allocation is on top of the existing £27 million in 2020-21 already directed to the response, and an additional £4 million allocated to support nutrition and vaccinations in Tigray. This brings UK total funding to support response to the crisis to £47.7 million. We continue to urge all parties to the conflict to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law.

2 comments

  1. It is the natural right of the Ethiopian government to shoot down any illegal flight breaching its air space.

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