- The head of the UN Office for the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinato, Fidele Sarassoro, is leading a group of other UN bodies to begin a humanitarian fact-finding mission in Ethiopia’s troubled south-eastern region of Ogaden.
The mission’s major role is to assess allegations of right abuses, food and water shortages and health needs of Ogaden residents.
"It is my hope that the findings of this assessment mission will construct a clearer picture of the humanitarian situation in the region," the UN Coordinator said in a statement.
"Equally important to us is that the findings of this mission also support the delivery of assistance to the people of the Somali region."
This tour will enable the UN mission to identify the humanitarian needs of Ogaden residents.
The region had been the centre of armed clashes between the forces loyal to the government and rebels of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).
The government and the ONLF have been accusing each other of deteriorating humanitarian services in Ogaden.
After accusing the International Red Cross of collaborating with the ONLF, the Ethiopian government expelled the body. But the group launched an alert on the risk of “void” in humanitarian assistance in one of the poorest and underdeveloped regions of the country.
In early August, the ONLF warned foreign oil companies to desist from exploration in Ogaden region before it took drastic action against them.
Scared by the killing of 65 Ethiopians and 9 Chinese oil workers by the ONLF few months back, the Chinese government had ceased exploration in Ogaden.
“Recent sensational claims by the Ethiopian regime that it has been able to realize military gains in Ogaden have no basis in reality and are designed to give a false sense of security to oil companies being urged by the regime not to abandon their exploration plans in Ogaden,” the ONLF countered in a statement, maintaining that its "forces are largely intact, operational and effective.”
“We also wish to confirm that the regime of Meles Zenawi does not have effective control of Ogaden, a factor which has contributed to their policy of denying entry to international journalists and expulsion of the ICRC.”
The ONLF said “pursuing oil and natural gas exploration activities in Ogaden at this stage can only be characterized as gross corporate irresponsibility given the war crimes being committed against our civilian population.”
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