Pressure on Ethiopia mounting – UN calls for de-escalation | Free press

New York / Nairobi (dpa) – Given the increasing number of refugees and acute warnings of a humanitarian disaster, international pressure on parties in Ethiopia is mounting to stop fighting in the Tigray region.

The UN Security Council dealt with the conflict for the first time. The panel met behind closed doors for advice. As expected, no decision has been taken. Ahead of the upcoming battle for Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, UN Secretary General António Guterres called on the parties to the conflict to protect the civilian population.

Three weeks ago, the Ethiopian government launched an offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which is in power in the northern region of Tigray. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed calls this a “law enforcement operation,” while the TPLF calls it an attack on the people of Tigray. The Ethiopian army is currently advancing towards Mekelle. Ahmed gave the armed forces and militias in Tigray a 72-hour ultimatum to surrender on Sunday evening.

The United Nations announced that UN chief António Guterres was deeply concerned about the situation in the country. “In view of reports of a possible military offensive in the regional capital of Mekelle, he urges leaders in Ethiopia to do everything possible to protect the civilian population,” said UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric. All parties to the conflict must de-escalate the local situation.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said the aggressive rhetoric from both sides about the battle of Mekelle was “dangerously provocative” and exposed civilians to grave danger. Faced with allegations against the TPLF that it has been hiding among civilians, it urged both sides to respect international law and protect civilians.

At the UN Security Council meeting, German UN Ambassador Günter Sautter spoke of “a very worrying” situation in Tigray. A conflict would undermine Ethiopia’s political and economic reforms and could destabilize the country and the entire region. The Federal Republic is ready to continue discussions in the Security Council in the coming weeks and to campaign for a diplomatic solution.

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) demanded an immediate truce in view of the ultimatum to the TPLF. “A violent occupation of the city by the Ethiopian army would amount to collective punishment of the civilian population, prohibited by international humanitarian law; The Tigray regional government also commits war crimes if it prevents the civilian population from leaving the besieged city, ”said Ulrich Delius, director of the STP.

According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, the conflict has already driven more than 40,000 people to neighboring Sudan. That number could increase rapidly. The UN World Food Program (WFP) spoke of a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation and as a precautionary measure transported food that would transport 60,000 people to the border for a month.

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) assured Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamduk Monday support for the refugees from Ethiopia. She did not provide specific information about the extent of the assistance. As the German government announced, both agreed that ways must be found for a non-military solution to the conflict.

Meanwhile, the state’s Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) responded to a massacre in a town in Tigray on Nov. 9. Preliminary research has shown that the crimes could be “crimes against humanity and war crimes”. She blamed the Tigray militias for this. Amnesty International had previously announced that hundreds would likely have died in the massacre.

The conflict is driven by increasing tensions between Tigray and the central government. The People’s Liberation Front TPLF dominated Ethiopia for over 25 years until incumbent Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018, expelling several of the TPLF’s leading officials. Many people in Tigray do not feel represented by the central government and want more autonomy.

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