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Hijackers hold drivers of humanitarian trucks taken in northern Ethiopia: UN

The spokesman said the drivers were not among the UN staff detained last month by federal authorities in Addis Ababa and the embattled Tigray region, north of Amhara.

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United Nations: Military groups are holding some drivers of 18 World Food Programme (WFP)-commandeered aid trucks in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia, a UN spokesman said on Monday.

“The World Food Programme (WFP) and its non-governmental organization (NGO) partners strongly condemn the commandeering of its trucks and assets, as well as forcible threats to their staff,” said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Some drivers remain detained.

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On Friday, “a group of armed individuals — believed to be either from the Ethiopian National Defense Forces or an affiliated allied military force — entered the Disaster Risk Management Committee compound in Kombolcha and took 18 WFP trucks by force,” he said.

The WFP reported to the UN headquarters in New York earlier Monday that the hijackers returned 15 of the trucks, but the whereabouts of some of the drivers remain unknown.

The WFP had informed the Ethiopian federal government of the thefts, and local authorities in Dessie are aiding in recovering the remaining trucks, Haq said. Individuals used the trucks “for their own purposes.”

Haq told Xinhua that while WFP reported drivers missing, he did not know how many.

The spokesman said the drivers were not among the UN staff detained last month by federal authorities in Addis Ababa and the embattled Tigray region, north of Amhara.

While Haq had no information on the truckers, he said, “We still have under detention 10 staffers and two dependents,” referring to the earlier federal detainees.

He said the WFP and partners reiterate that “under international humanitarian law, it is prohibited to attack, destroy, misappropriate, or loot relief supplies, installations, material, units, or vehicles.”

Attempts to reach a WFP spokesperson were unsuccessful.

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