Tigray, Ethiopia: Peace and security in Africa – Security Council (2 July 2021)

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Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo told the Security Council that Ethiopia is at a critical juncture, “the ceasefire announcement provides an opportunity that all parties to the conflict, including the TPLF, must seize and build upon.” She urged “the TDF to endorse the ceasefire immediately and completely.”

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Speaking to the Security Council in New York, DiCarlo reiterated “The international community must continue to call for a permanent ceasefire to be honored by all parties.”

The Under-Secretary-General said, “We should urge Ethiopia’s leaders to work swiftly to restore national unity through a process of inclusive dialogue and reconciliation,” adding that “the Government’s recent indication of its intent to do so is positive.”

DiCarlo also said, “All parties must ensure the safe passage of humanitarian workers for the continued delivery of supplies. The destruction of the Tekeze bridge on 1 July effectively cut off Central Tigray from Western Tigray, closing a vital artery for humanitarian assistance.”

She continued, “A ceasefire observed by all parties would not only facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid but would also be a starting point for the necessary political efforts to chart a way out of the crisis.”

DiCarlo reiterated, “The conflict in Tigray is a result of deep-rooted political grievances that can only be resolved through dialogue and a credible political process.”

Acting Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Ramesh Rajasingham also briefed the Council.

He said, “What we need first and foremost is for all armed and security actors to provide guarantees for safe road access for humanitarian workers and supplies to and from Tigray, as well as to and from the most remote parts of the region. This means not stopping us from getting through checkpoints, but rapidly letting us proceed in all directions.”

According to OCHA, one of the most distressing trends is an alarming rise in food insecurity and hunger due to conflict in the country. More than 400,000 people are estimated to have crossed the threshold into famine and another 1.8 million people are on the brink of famine. Some are suggesting that the numbers are even higher. 33,000 children are severely malnourished. The food insecurity crisis will continue to worsen during the impending rainy season, as food supplies are exhausted, and the risk of flooding and water-borne diseases including Cholera increases.

Rajasingham said, “We must be allowed to use the fastest and most effective route to get humanitarian supplies to the people in need. We need immediate, unhindered and sustained access from both Komolcha and Semera to Mekelle, and from Gondar to Shire.”

He continued, “I am deeply alarmed by yesterday’s destruction of the Tekeze River Bridge – and the reported damage to two other bridges – which has cut off our main supply route from Gondar to Shire which we use to bring in food and other lifesaving supplies.”

He explained, “Without fuel we cannot transport food and people will starve. We cannot run water pumps providing clean water and prevent cholera which kills. Hospital cannot operate and people will die. In short, without fuel humanitarian operations will not be possible and lives will be lost.”

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told Council Members that they can help translate the ceasefire declaration – first into a sustainable peace, and then into dialogue, reconciliation, and healing.

She said, “A meaningful ceasefire deal would affirm the redeployment of forces and the complete withdrawal of Eritrean troops and Amhara regional forces.”

Ethiopian Ambassador Taye Atske Selassie Made reaffirmed that his government will “continue ensuring accountability for human rights abuse and crimes committed in the Tigray region. We’ll make sure that impunity is not tolerated. We remain committed to work with all bilateral and multilateral partners through genuine partnership and the understanding that the Government of Ethiopia is more than capable of overcoming these challenges. We encourage Council members to play constructive role in supporting the Ethiopian Government in the implementation of the humanitarian ceasefire.”

Later speaking outside the Security Council at a press encounter, Kenya’s Ambassador Martin Kimani spoke on behalf of the A3+1, which includes Kenya, Niger, Tunisia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

He said “We have therefore call on all parties in Tigray that have not pronounced themselves on the cessation of hostilities to do so without delay and to act accordingly by ceasing all armed operations.”

Ambassador Kimani continued, “We further call for the withdraw of any and all non-Ethiopian forces from Tigray and the immediate standing down of all militias from neighbouring federal states.”

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