Ethiopia: We don't block aid
NAIROBI, Kenya -- Ethiopia's government denied it blocked trade and humanitarian aid to its southeastern Somali region, IRIN reported Thursday.
Media reports and aid agencies, however, claimed that limited humanitarian access and the rising prices of food are the results of security-related restrictions implemented to combat the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front.
ONLF spokesman Abdirahman Mahdi told IRIN the Ethiopian government ensures "nothing is entering the region, whether it is commercial or aid."
Mahdi said the Ethiopian military takes or destroys the people's food and torches villages and nomadic homes.
"They want to starve the people into submission. Food donated by Western taxpayers is being used as a weapon of war by the Ethiopian regime," he said, calling on the international community, particularly the United Nations, "to act now to avert a catastrophe."
But Jama Ahmed Jama, vice president of the Somali regional state, insisted there is no food crisis in the region.
"The food aid is currently in distribution," he told IRIN. "We do not have any report on hand that showed any type of food crisis in the region. We are trying to alleviate our people from poverty not push them into suffering."
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