News: A group of western countries issue new concern amid war in Tigray, call for withdrawal of Eritrean forces

Picture: Screenshot/DW local TV from Tigray

Addis Abeba: A group of western countries issued a new statement of concern at “the escalation of the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia.”

Australia, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States, said they were “profoundly concerned” as war in the Tigray escalated in the shadow of communication blackout and continued blockade of access to independent media.

Among the few reports was the killing of more than 50 civilians in one of the deadliest air strikes yet in the small town of Adi Daero, in the border with Eritrea. According to Reuters, the target was school “on a list of sites housing internally displaced persons (IDPs) that the Office of the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ethiopia sent to Ethiopia’s foreign ministry in January.”

Today’s call by the group came after an AU-led “peace talk” scheduled to take place on the weekend of 08 October in South Africa between the federal government and Tigrayan authorities “to deliberate on the guiding principles, agenda issues, modalities, format and timelines for the negotiated settlement” failed to materialize.

Militarized hostilities re-erupted between the federal government and Tigrayan forces on 24 August. It was a major escalation in militarized hostilities after six months-long pause following the 24 March announcement by the federal government of “a humanitarian truce“, which was later on reciprocated by the Tigrayan leadership in Mekelle.

The five month truce was followed by several attempts brokered by the international community to bring the war, which started in November 2020 and devastated Afar, Amhara and Tigray regional states, to a peaceful resolution.

Similar call was repeated in today’s statement by the group. “We call on the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray regional authorities to immediately halt their military offensives, agree to a cessation of hostilities, allow for unhindered and sustained humanitarian access, and pursue a negotiated settlement through peace talks under an African Union-led process,” the statement reads.  

The statement also condemned “the escalating involvement of Eritrean military forces in northern Ethiopia,”  and called on “Eritrean forces to cease their military operations and withdraw from northern Ethiopia.  All foreign actors should cease actions that fuel this conflict.”

Eritrea’s involvement was known to the international community from early on. In early September, the U.S. has already said it “condemn[s] Eritrea’s reentry” into the war; and on 20 September its Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, told media that the U.S. was “tracking” Eritrean troop movements along the Ethiopian border. The Envoy’s remark came shortly after Tigrayan authorities said that “Eritrean forces have launched full scale offensive in all fronts today,” and days after news reports emerged that Eritrea was “mobilizing” its military reservist.

The involvement of Eritrean troops the atrocities they committed against Tigrayan civilians, has long been documented by human rights organizations, including the state backed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), highlighting “grave human rights violations and an attack against civilians in Axum city, Tigray region.” AS

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