Calls for Ethiopia’s peace efforts grow as fighting intensifies

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) – Diplomats are urging Ethiopia’s federal authorities and their rivals in the northern Tigray region to agree to a ceasefire as heavy fighting sparks growing humanitarian fears.

African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat expressed “serious concern” in a statement on Sunday over the fighting and called for “an immediate, unconditional ceasefire and the resumption of humanitarian services”.

AU-led peace talks were due to take place in South Africa earlier this month, but were delayed due to logistical and technical issues.

The warring parties have said they are ready to participate in the process, although fighting continues in Tigray.

“The chairman appeals to the parties to recommit to dialogue in line with their agreement on direct talks to be convened in South Africa by a high-level team led by the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, with the support of the international community,” Mahamat said in a statement.

The AU statement followed a statement issued late Saturday by a UN spokesman who said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “gravely concerned about the escalation of fighting” and called for an immediate end to hostilities.

Fighting resumed between Tigray forces and federal troops in August, ending a ceasefire that had been in place since March and allowing much-needed aid to enter the region. The fighting drew forces from Eritrea, on the side of the Ethiopian federal army.

USAID Administrator Samantha Power called on Eritrean forces to withdraw from Tigray and called on the parties to respect the ceasefire, warning in a tweet that up to a million people were “teetering on the brink of starvation” in the region.

“The conflict has displaced millions of people and camps for displaced Ethiopians have been attacked,” said Power, who warned of further bloodshed if Eritrean and Ethiopian federal forces take control of the camps.

The calls for a ceasefire came after heavy clashes were reported near the town of Shire in northwestern Tigray, where an International Rescue Committee worker was killed in an attack Friday while distributing aid supplies.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Joseph Borrell, said he was “appalled by reports of continued violence, including the targeting of civilians in the Shire”.

The Tigray forces said in a statement that they welcome the AU’s call for a ceasefire.

“We are ready to abide by the immediate cessation of hostilities,” the statement said. The federal government of Ethiopia is yet to respond.

Aid distribution is hampered by fuel shortages and ongoing communications blackouts in Tigray. The Associated Press reported on Saturday that a UN team found that there were “10 starvation deaths” in seven internally displaced persons camps in northwestern Tigray, according to an internal document prepared by the aid agency.

Millions of people in northern Ethiopia, including the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions, have been driven from their homes and tens of thousands of people are believed to have been killed since the conflict erupted in November 2020.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Latest

To Top