“Ongoing violence” in Amhara is hampering humanitarian aid in this region of northern Ethiopia, the director of the World Health Organization (WHO) deplored on Sunday, calling for peace and asking for “ access uninterrupted" to the area.
The clashes between local fighters and the army in Africa's second most populous country come just nine months after the end of a devastating conflict in neighboring Tigray region, which also involved Amhara fighters.
The government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on Saturday that it had made arrests linked to "the security crisis in the Amhara region", after having imposed a state of emergency there the day before.
On Sunday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, from Ethiopia, said his organization was "concerned about the ongoing violence".
"Humanitarian access is difficult due to blocked roads. Communications are difficult due to internet suspension," he said on Twitter, renamed X.
“We call for the uninterrupted access and protection of the health system in Amhara so that the WHO and its partners can continue to work there. And above all, we call for peace,” he said. he adds.
On Saturday, fighters from the nationalist Amhara Fano militia controlled three major towns in the region, according to residents: Lalibela, Gondar and Dessie.
And if no new clashes were recorded in Lalibela, residents of Gondar and Bahir Dar , the administrative capital of Amhara said they heard gunshots at nightfall on Sunday.
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said on Friday that civilians had been attacked, property damaged and transport and internet services suspended in several areas of Amhara.
The national airline Ethiopian Airlines has suspended its flights to Dessie, Lalibela and Gondar. The United States for their part are declared "concerned" by this violence.
Tensions in the region have been growing since April when the government announced that it wanted to dismantle the " special forces", paramilitary units created by many regional states over the past fifteen years. Amhara nationalists protested against this measure, believing that the government wants to weaken their region.
In recent weeks, clashes between the army and Fano fighters have intensified, leading foreign countries to advise against travel to the area.