The Ethiopian ambassador to Ethiopia has said that Eritrean troops, who fought with his country’s forces in the war against the Tigris region, “will definitely leave soon.”
Many will welcome the move, including the UN, whose humanitarian leader has accused Eritreans of using hunger as a “weapon of war.”
The war in Tigray became an unofficial closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council, where the head of aid, Mark Lukok, warned that more than 350,000 people had already been reported to be starving.
Ethiopian UN envoy Tay Atzke Selassie Amden on Tuesday disputed the allegations of starvation, but said there was “food insecurity” in Tigray and thanked donors for their help.
Lukok strongly supported the data released last week, which shows that 350,000 people are starving and more than two million people are just a step away.
Launched by the Integrated Phase Classification of Food Safety, known as IPC, which is a global partnership of 15 UN agencies և international humanitarian organizations և uses five categories of food safety, from people who have the right to eat enough until their Humanitarian Disaster »:
“To get worse”
In a briefing to the Security Council by the Associated Press, Lukok called the IPC “the most complex, authoritative, comprehensive, professionally rigorous assessment in the world” and said that if it was wrong, “it is because it is too optimistic”. »:
“The Tigray administration has reported deaths from starvation,” he said. “In the coming months, the situation is deteriorating not only in Tigray, but also!” [neighbouring] Afar և Amharan too. ”
Lukok says more than 350,000 more people have been killed in the “disaster” than the world has seen since 250,000 Somalis died of starvation in 2011.
A locust outbreak was already raging in the Tigray region, which has a predominantly agricultural area of about 5.5 million people, when Prime Minister Abi Ahmed declared war on November 4 between members of his “contemptuous regional government”.
Tigray leaders have dominated Ethiopia for almost three decades, but they came out after Abiy introduced reforms after he won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
No one knows how many thousands of civilians or fighters were killed. More than 50,000 fled to neighboring Sudan.
Despite Abi declaring victory in late November, Ethiopia’s military allies remain active, including in neighboring Eritrea, now a bitter enemy of fleeing officials who once ruled Tigray.
“Weapons of War”
In addition to Eritrean soldiers who use starvation as a “weapon of war,” Lukok told the Security Council. “Rape is systematically used to intimidate women and girls. … Deportees are collected, beaten: threatened. “Aid workers were killed, interrogated, beaten, blocked from helping the hungry, suffering and told not to return.”
He warned that without the end of the war, a political solution in Tigris, the protection of civilians, the departure of Eritrean soldiers responsible for “significant violations” of international humanitarian law. “No one should be surprised to see a re-election in 1984.”
The catastrophic famine of 1984-85 killed nearly two million Africans from starvation or related diseases, about half in Ethiopia.
Abi said the Eritrean forces had agreed to leave in late March.
When asked when they will leave, Amden from Ethiopia told reporters after the council meeting. “There is an obligation from my government, the Eritreans are also very clear that it is a matter of sorting out some technical and procedural issues. “Our expectation is that they will definitely leave soon.”
UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward said: “There can be no delay!”
“Because of the violence, farmers have not been able to plant next year’s crop,” he told reporters. “Their window will be closed. And as long as the violence continues, it is not alone condemning the desperate famine of the people of Tigray this year, but next year as well. ”
Late Tuesday evening, three African Security Council members, Tunisia, Niger and Kenya, joined by St Vincent and the Grenadines, issued a statement expressing “concern over the humanitarian needs of 17.1 million Ethiopians, including those in the Tigris region”. people. ” enhanced assistance.
The 14-point statement never mentions famine; it advised the council that any action “should recognize and respond to the fact that Ethiopia is ending elections in less than a week.”