NewAlert: UN Chief invokes Olympic Truce to appeal for end of hostilities, humanitarian access to pave way for inclusive dialogue in Ethiopia

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Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR at a Press Conference after 66th session of Excom. 9 October 2015. UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

Addis Abeba –Shortly before his departure to attend the Winter Olympic Games Beijing 2022, the UN Secretary General António Guterres has issued yet another appeal to end hostilities in the 15 months old civil war in Ethiopia. In his appeal, the Secretary-General invoked :the tradition of the Olympic Truce”, which he said “has called on all parties, everywhere, to stop hostilities throughout the course of Games.”

Mr. Guterres’ last statement on Ethiopia was issued on on Janurary 19 in which he said he had “a telephone conversation” with the African Union High Representative for the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo, “to exchange views with him on the conflict in Ethiopia following his latest visit to Addis Abeba and Mekelle, the capital of the regional state of Tigray.”

He said he was “delighted that after over a year of armed conflict which has affected millions of people across Ethiopia and the rest of the region, there is now a demonstrable effort to make peace.”

However, there has been no tangible progress since then and Ethiopian officials have continued denying that there were talks to end hostilities. But on January 29, the leader of Tigray state, Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), has told the BBC that “there are encouraging signs” in the peace negotiations to end civil war.

The call today came at the backdrop a new food security assessment, released today by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP),revealed that “almost 40 percent of Tigrayans are suffering an extreme lack of food, after 15 months of conflict. Meanwhile, across all three conflict-affected regions of the north more than 9 million people are in need of humanitarian food assistance, the highest number yet.”

In his statement today, Mr. Guterres stressed that ending the hostilities and facilitating access to humanitarian supplies were actions that “will pave the way to a much-needed inclusive national dialogue involving all Ethiopians.”

Full statement

The people of Ethiopia continue to suffer greatly from ongoing conflict and bloodshed.

For millennia, the tradition of the Olympic Truce has called on all parties, everywhere, to stop hostilities throughout the course of Games.

As I prepare to leave for the Winter Olympics, I make the strongest possible appeal for all parties in Ethiopia for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

And this can allow for effective humanitarian access and relief to all affected populations throughout Ethiopia.

And these actions will pave the way to a much-needed inclusive national dialogue involving all Ethiopians.

I reiterate my appeal to all parties to follow the finest tradition of the Olympic Spirit to save lives, overcome differences and find the path to real peace.