Cargo documents and manifests seen by CNN, as well as eyewitness accounts and photographic evidence, confirm that arms were transported between Addis Ababa’s international airport and airports in the Eritrean cities of Asmara and Massawa on board multiple Ethiopian Airlines planes in November 2020 during the first few weeks of the Tigray conflict.
It’s the first time this weapons trade between the former foes has been documented during the war. Experts said the flights would constitute a violation of international aviation law, which forbids the smuggling of arms for military use on civil aircraft.
Atrocities committed during the conflict also appear to violate the terms of a trade program that provides lucrative access to the United States market and which Ethiopian Airlines has benefited greatly from.
Ethiopian Airlines is a state-owned economic powerhouse that generates billions of dollars a year carrying passengers to hubs across the African continent and all over the world, and it is also a member of the Star Alliance, a group of some of the world’s top aviation companies.
The airline previously issued two denials about transporting weapons.
Responding to CNN’s latest investigation, Ethiopian Airlines said it “strictly complies with all National, regional and International aviation related regulations” and that “to the best of its knowledge and its records, it has not transported any war armament in any of its routes by any of its Aircraft.”
The governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.
Long-simmering tensions between Ethiopia’s government and the ruling party in the Tigray region exploded on November 4, when Ethiopia accused the Tigray People’s Liberation Front of attacking a federal army base.
Source : cnn