UN Security Council Urges Access to War-Torn Ethiopia Region
(Bloomberg) -- The United Nations Security Council called for greater access to Ethiopia’s war-stricken Tigray region where as many as two million people require humanitarian assistance amid continued hostilities, according to a U.K. official.
“I think we all shared the view that the incremental progress we’ve seen so far is not enough,” Barbara Woodward, the U.K.’s permanent representative to the UN, said after a meeting of the Security Council in New York, referring to the issue of access to the northernmost area in Ethiopia.
The meeting was requested by the U.S., the U.K., France, Norway, Ireland and Estonia, which have expressed growing concern about continued hostilities in region. Though no official statement was issued after the meeting, diplomats briefed on the talks said Kenya, Tunisia, Niger, China and Russia are reluctant to put pressure on Ethiopia at this stage.
The conflict erupted at the beginning of November when Ethiopian federal troops entered Tigray in response to an alleged attack and toppled the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, a dissident ruling party that’s set itself in opposition to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since he came to power in April 2018. Though the government announced victory on Nov. 28, the region’s leader has vowed to continue with the conflict that has claimed thousands of lives, displacing hundreds of thousands more and threatens to destabilize the Horn of Africa.
The strategically important region has issues that cut across a number of countries and President Joe Biden’s administration may consider a special envoy for the Greater Horn of Africa to advance U.S. interests there, a State Department spokesman said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Abiy on Thursday and expressed “grave concern” about the humanitarian crisis in Tigray, State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. Blinken called for “immediate, full and unhindered humanitarian access to prevent further loss of life.”
Woodward also condemned the destruction of two refugee camps in Tigray. Filippo Grandi, the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, said this week that 15,000 to 20,000 refugees are missing after the Hitsats and Shimelba refugee camps were flattened.
Ethiopia detained 124 suspects, including key TPLF leaders and members of the regional police force, the Office of the Attorney General said in a statement Thursday. An investigation found the TPLF was planning armed insurrection and was financing and training militia to attack other parts of the country, it said.
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