Eritrean troops in Tigray ‘will leave soon’: UN envoy to Ethiopia | Conflict News
Ethiopia’s ambassador to the United Nations said that Eritrean troops who fought with his country’s forces in a war against the Tigray region “will certainly leave soon”.
This decision would be welcomed by many, including the UN, whose humanitarian chief has accused the Eritreans of using famine as “a weapon of war”.
The war in Tigray was the subject of an informal closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday, where aid chief Mark Lowcock warned more than 350,000 people were in conditions of starvation , with famine deaths already reported.
Ethiopian UN envoy Taye Atske Selassie Amde disputed famine data on Tuesday, but said there was “food insecurity” in Tigray and expressed gratitude for donor assistance .
Lowcock has strongly defended data released last week showing 350,000 people are facing starvation and more than two million are just around the corner.
It was published by the Integrated Food Security Classification known as IPC, which is a global partnership of 15 United Nations agencies and international humanitarian organizations, and uses five food security categories ranging from people who have enough to eat to those facing the “Famine-Humanitarian Catastrophe”.
‘Thought to get worse’
In his briefing to the Security Council seen by the Associated Press, Lowcock called the IPC “the most sophisticated, authoritative, comprehensive and professionally rigorous assessment” and said that if it was wrong, “it ‘is because she is too optimistic ”.
“The administration of Tigray has reported deaths from starvation,” he said. “The situation should worsen in the coming months, not only in Tigray, but in [neighbouring] Afar and Amhara too.
Lowcock said more than 350,000 people in “catastrophic” conditions are more than the world has seen since 250,000 Somalis lost their lives to famine in 2011.
The largely agricultural region of Tigray, with around 5.5 million inhabitants, already had a food security problem with a locust epidemic when on November 4 Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced fighting between his forces and those of the rebel regional government.
Tigray’s rulers dominated Ethiopia for nearly three decades, but were sidelined after Abiy introduced reforms that won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.
No one knows how many thousands of civilians or combatants were killed. More than 50,000 have fled to neighboring Sudan.
Although Abiy declared victory at the end of November, the Ethiopian army and allied fighters remain active, including troops from neighboring Eritrea, a bitter enemy of the now fugitive officials who once ruled Tigray.
” War weapon “
In addition to Eritrean soldiers using starvation as “a weapon of war,” Lowcock told the Security Council: “Rape is routinely used to terrorize women and girls. … Displaced people are rounded up, beaten and threatened. Aid workers have been killed, interrogated, beaten, prevented from providing aid to the starving and suffering, and ordered not to return.
He warned endlessly of the war and a political solution in Tigray, the protection of civilians and the departure of Eritrean soldiers responsible for “substantial violations” of international humanitarian law, “no one should be surprised to see news of 1984 ”.
During the disastrous famine of 1984-85, about two million Africans died from hunger or famine-related diseases, about half of them in Ethiopia.
Abiy said in late March that Eritrean forces had agreed to leave.
When asked about the date of their departure, Ethiopian Amde told reporters after the council meeting: “My government has made a commitment, and the Eritreans are also very clear, that it is about fixing some technical issues and procedural. We certainly expect them to be leaving soon.
UK Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward has said “there can be no more delay”.
“Farmers have not been able to plant next year’s crops due to the violence,” she told reporters. “The window for them is about to close. And as the violence continues, it not only condemns the people of Tigray to desperate hunger this year, but also next year. “
The three African members of the Security Council – Tunisia, Niger, Kenya joined by Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – issued a statement Tuesday evening expressing “their concern over the humanitarian needs facing 17.1 million people. ‘Ethiopians, including residents of the Tigray region’ and called for enhanced assistance.
The 14-point declaration never mentioned famine and warned the council that any action it takes “must recognize and respond to the reality that Ethiopia is finalizing preparations for an election in barely a week.”