One of the leaders of Ethiopia's Tigray People's Liberation Front (RPT) claims that emergency food supplies sent to his country have been used by the government for military purposes.
1. CU Still pictures of drums with butteroil, truck carrying, military supplies. 0.05
2. SV Tewolde Welde Elias, member of the Central Committee of the Tigray People's Liberation Front speaks. (SOT) (2 SHOTS) 1.37
3. CU 'Peoples Voice' magazine PULL BACK TO Mr. tewolde answering a question from a reporter. (SOT) 2.34
TEWOLDE: (SEQ 2) "We are not opposed to relief aid given to the Ethiopian People, but the Ethiopian government uses it for military purposes. This is butteroil which was given by the European Community and we captured it in the military barracks of the Dergue of the Ethiopian government. This truck is also given by the UNICEF and we captured it when it was transporting military supplies to the Ethiopian army. Here the relief society of Tigray which is a humanitarian organisation which is working in the liberated area of Tigray is giving aid to drought victims. Our forces attacked Korem on April 20. It was purely a military operation in order to avert the recruitment of able bodied people by the military government. At present the military government of Addi Ababa is recruiting people from the shelters and already it has recruited about 10,000 people, forcefully recruited about 10,000 people and it is training them in a place called Kembolcha near Dese, which is the capital city of Wollo."
QUESTION: (SEQ 3) "It's been reported that at the beginning of this week, the Tigray People's Liberation Front kidnapped ten international relief workers. Can you confirm this? And if so, can you tell us, what will happen to them?"
TEWOLDE: "So fare we are not able to confirm whether our forces have taken these aid workers, but we try to make the maximum effort to keep their well-being. We'll take care of as far as our resources allow us, and they will be released as soon as possible.
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Background: ROME, ITALY
One of the leaders of Ethiopia's Tigray People's Liberation Front (RPT) claims that emergency food supplies sent to his country have been used by the government for military purposes. Tewolde Welde Elias said in Rome on April 27 that food supplies, such as barrels of butteroil from the European Economic Community (EEC), had been captured by Tigray guerrillas in a government military barracks. He added that trucks supplied by the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) to transport food, were being used by the military. Mr. tewolde, a central committee member of the RPT's Political Committee and Foreign Relations Bureau in Italy, said that Tigray forces attacked the city of Korem 600 kilometres (400 miles) north of Addis Ababa recently to prevent the government press-ganging thousands of men into the army. He estimated that about 10,000 men had already been recruited. Mr. Tewolde said could not confirm whether it was Tigray guerrillas who kidnapped eight foreign aid workers in Korem on April 20-21. If that was the case, he said, they would be well taken care of and would be released as soon as possible. Wendy Richards, a British relief worker who was in Korem at the time, said the kidnappers told the hostages to take their medical kits with them because of drought conditions in the area. Korem is the capital of the Wollo province. Since the start of the recent drought, which threatens to be as the 1973 drought in which 200,000 people died, a total of 42,000 refugees have arrived in the city, hoping to obtain food and water. Since the 1974 coup in which Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed, the Tigray guerrillas have waged war against rule from Addis Ababa. They say the area has been consistently ignored by central government and has not received enough economic assistance. Among the refugees in Korem are an estimated 5,000 children, some critically ill with meningitis and with no hope of speedy medical treatment.
Source: REUTERS ROME