The European Union and United Nations this week came out strongly against the year-long conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray with one organisation warning “the catastrophic humanitarian situation is nearing the edge”.
Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, wants fighting in Tigray to stop immediately. Her call follows declaration of a broad state of emergency in the conflict-ridden part of the east African country as well as continued shelling of Mekelle, the provincial capital.
EU Council president Charles Michel echoed Bachelet on the “catastrophic humanitarian situation” adding fighting undermined territorial integrity and stability of Ethiopia and the region.
“The EU is particularly worried about recent escalation of fighting in the Amhara region and military advances of the TPLF and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), as well as aerial bombardment by the Ethiopian Air Force of Mekelle, all of which risk dragging the country further into fragmentation and widespread armed conflict and worsening the situation of the population,” an EU Council statement said.
The European bloc repeated earlier statements saying there is no military solution to Tigray.
“All parties to the conflict must implement a meaningful ceasefire with immediate effect and engage in political negotiations without pre-conditions, showing responsibility and political leadership. The EU reiterates its call for full and immediate withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia’s territory.”
Bachelet pointed out “grave risks which far from stabilising the situation, these extremely broad measures will deepen divisions, endanger civil society and human rights defenders, provoke greater conflict and add to human suffering already at unacceptable levels”.
“Civilians in Tigray are subjected to brutal violence and suffering. The Joint Investigation Team uncovered numerous violations and abuses, including unlawful killings, extra-judicial executions, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, violations against refugees and forced displacement of civilians,” she said in Geneva at the launch of a report by her office and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission into the Tigray conflict.
She said there are reasonable grounds to believe all parties to the fighting committed violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law, some of which may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes, on the basis of victims not involved in fighting.
“The Tigray conflict is marked by extreme brutality,” Bachelet said.
The EU body welcomed the joint report adding it supported regional and African Union mediation efforts trusting these will deliver peace.