Addis Abeba – Commenting for the second time on Ethiopia’s renewed militarized hostilities between the Ethiopian federal army and Tigrayan forces, members of the U.N. appointed International Commission of Human Rights Experts said that “given the gravity of the situation, the Commission urges the [UN Security] Council to keep the situation in Ethiopia and the Horn high on its agenda.”
The Commission added that “Eritrean troops are also engaged in hostilities,” and cautioned “the conflict risks spreading to other states.”
The statement from the Commission was issued in the wake of reports of meeting by the UNSC on Ethiopia, which was requested by the US, UK, France, Ireland, Norway and Albania, according to journalist Amanda Price, Senior producer for AlJazeera English at the United Nations.
The meeting was originally planned to take place Thursday 08 September. However, the same journalist updated the information quoting UN diplomats that the meeting was “likely to be delayed until next week, citing disagreements among Council members over whether it should be held in open or closed session.”
Although members of the UNSC had held a meeting on Ethiopia several times, the only statement the members agreed to issue was in April 2021, calling for “continuation of international relief efforts in a manner consistent with the United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian emergency assistance, including humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.”
In March 2021, the Council dropped issuing a resolution calling for cessation of hostilities and respect for international humanitarian laws after a second attempt had failed to produce consensus among the members states.
In its latest statement the UN appointed rights Commission said that “in light of the threat to peace and security in the region,” it welcomed “the decision of the UN Security Council discuss the situation in Ethiopia as a matter of urgency” and called upon the Security Council “to take action under the Charter needed to ensure the protection of civilians and prevent escalation that could further destabilize the region.”
The Commission once again expressed “its deep concern about the renewal of hostilities between the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front,’ and “reiterates its call to all parties immediately to cease hostilities, to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, and to return to the process of dialogue.”
The Commission first denounced the 24 August resumption of militarized hostilities in a statement it issued on 29 August. “Such fighting exacerbates the hardships on civilians in the region and carries with it the risk of escalation. We are particularly concerned about reports of civilian casualties at a playground in Mekelle in Tigray region, and the alleged targeting of civilians in renewed offensive in Kobo in Amhara region,” it said.
The ongoing militarized hostilities marked a major escalation after six months-long pause in active fighting following the 24 March announcement by the Ethiopian federal government of “a humanitarian truce“, which was later on reciprocated by the Tigrayan leadership in Mekelle.
The truce was followed by several attempts brokered by the international community to bring the civil war, which started in November 2020 and devastated Afar, Amhara and Tigray regional states, to a peaceful resolution. AS