On Wednesday I spoke to Meles (not his real name, but he needs to prevent harassment of his mother).
He lives in Canada and his mother flies out to spend the festive season with him every year. She is in her eighties and it is a tough journey but she and Meles look forward to their annual reunion.
Her husband spent over 30 years working for Ethiopian Airlines. But two years ago he passed away and Meles is determined she should not be alone at this time.
Meles is lucky. He worked for the Canadian air force until he retired and now has his own business. He can afford to fly his mother to join him.
So you can imagine his anger and despair when he learned that his mother was being banned from taking the flight by Ethiopian Airlines. Her “crime”? She’s Tigrean.
“Ethiopian airlines is an international airline,” says Meles. “Discrimination should not be allowed. This is racism – pure and simple.”
Meles is now consulting his lawyer – looking to use Canadian courts to challenge Ethiopian Airlines’ discrimination.
“It is disgusting – legal discrimination by an international airline. I am going to go for them. I will sue the airline,” he said.
But for this year he, and his mother, must spend the festive season apart. It is a high price to pay, but his thoughts are with the plight of the people in Tigray.
“It is really bad. I don’t understand why the media and international humanitarians are not allowed inside. It is suspicious. The international community must push hard, to get on the ground.”