Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest carrier, denied on Sunday that it was transporting weapons and soldiers to the war-torn region of Tigray.
Calls to boycott the state-owned airline have surfaced on social media following allegations it was involved in the nine-month-old conflict.
“Ethiopian Airlines strongly refutes all recent unfounded and unfounded allegations circulating on social media regarding the airline’s involvement in the transport of weapons of war and soldiers to the Tigray region,” he said. she said in a statement on Twitter.
The war between government forces and their allies against the rebels in Tigray has claimed thousands of lives and pushed hundreds of thousands of people to starvation, with allegations of human rights violations on both sides.
The allegations about the national carrier have appeared in numerous messages on Twitter, some accompanied by photos of soldiers boarding one of its planes.
But Ethiopian Airlines said the reports “used various photoshopped, old and unrelated images to tarnish our brand.”
Flights to and from Tigray, Ethiopia’s northernmost region, were suspended after the conflict began in November and after being reopened for a period, the airspace was closed again there at one month.
“We haven’t had any flights to the region since then, and none of our planes have landed in the conflict zone,” Ethiopian Airlines said.
The United Nations and other aid agencies have issued urgent appeals for the opening of air and road routes to Tigray, where the UN says more than five million people are in desperate need of help.
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths and US aid chief Samantha Power are both visiting Ethiopia to lobby for access to the region.
The Ethiopian government and the rebels in Tigray have accused each other of being responsible for the difficulties in reaching Tigray by road.
© 2021 AFP