Amid efforts to provide aid to millions of people in Tigray, the Ethiopian federal government says commercial drivers of aid trucks are smuggling in banned products.
On a visit June 4 to the northwestern Afar region, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonen said the trucks are carrying equipment which is being transferred to the rebel Tigray People's Liberation Front.
Mitiku Kassa Gutile, commissioner for the Ethiopia Disaster Risk management agency, told VOA, "The drivers of the commercial fleet are taking and allowed supply such as extra fuel with barrels, satellite phones and other materials."
Contacted by VOA, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs declined to comment on the Ethiopian government's accusation.
The government recently declared a cease-fire to allow assistance to reach Tigray for the first time since mid-December 2021.
Aid agencies have previously raised concern that while the government authorized fuel for humanitarian operations into Tigray, the volume was insufficient and reserves were at low levels.
Commissioner Mitiku said due to the alleged violations, new measures will be put in place to prevent the transport of unauthorized goods into Tigray.
"When the partners have entered the contractual agreement, they have to put additional articles to hinder such type of wrongdoing from the commercial fleet side. So that the commercial fleet owners will take responsibility. Secondly, according to the legal law, the government will take action on the drivers," Mitiku said.
Aid agencies are seeking permission to transport more fuel to the north so they can distribute more humanitarian supplies, including lifesaving therapeutic milk and foods to about 240 health facilities across the Afar region.