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Updated November 6th, 2021 at 07:52 IST

UN Security Council calls for 'lasting ceasefire', end of hostilities in Ethiopia

Members of UN Security Council called on warring sides to refrain from inflammatory hate speech, incitement to violence, and divisiveness as crisis escalated.

Zaini Majeed
UN Security Council
IMAGE: AP | Image:self
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United Nations Security Council on Friday expressed “deep concern” about the intensifying military clashes between Addis Ababa and the Tigray People's Liberation Front as it asked the warring sides to negotiate a “lasting ceasefire” and immediately end hostilities. More than 2.5 million civilians have been displaced, and thousands have been killed in the year-long conflict between the Ethiopian government and the rebel Tigrayan forces. 

Stressing that the military offensive has rendered at least 7 million people in the regions of Tigray, Amhara, and Afar in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, the UNSC on Nov. 5 noted the impact of the conflict on the civilian population in Ethiopia, as well as the stability of the country and the wider region, according to a statement read by Mexico’s UN Ambassador Juan Ramon De La Fuente Ramirez, the current council president. The latter highlighted “the expansion and intensification of military clashes in northern Ethiopia,” according to the UNSC release on Friday. 

“The members of the Security Council called for refraining from inflammatory hate speech and incitement to violence and divisiveness, and respect of international humanitarian law, for safe and unhindered humanitarian access, the re-establishment of public services, and further urged the scaling up of humanitarian assistance,” the UN Security Council stated in an official press statement, Friday. 

UNSC reiterates support for African Union's mediatory role 

UN Security Council urged for the creation of conditions to initiate an inclusive Ethiopian national dialogue to resolve the crisis and create the foundation for peace and stability throughout the country. Furthermore, the council reiterated its unwavering support for the role of regional organizations, namely the African Union, in resolving the ongoing conflict and sustaining regional peace and security.  AU now faces mounting pressure to ramp up the efforts to end the worsening conflict. 

“Today the Security Council breaks six months of silence and speaks again with one united voice on the deeply concerning situation in Ethiopia,” said Ireland’s UN Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason in a press statement approved by the 15 council members, as cited by Associated Press. “For the first time, the Council clearly calls for a cessation of hostilities. We believe this should happen immediately, and that all civilians must be protected.”

In this regard, the UNSC took note of the statement made earlier by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on the escalating conflict in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia as of November 3. AU, which has its headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, has a prominent role in peace negotiations. UNSC expressed support for the African Union High Representative for the Horn of African Region, retired general and former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, who has assumed a mediation role in the Tigray-Ethiopia war as brickbats were hurtled on both sides over the last year.

Just last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa’s Obasanjo to stress the "urgency" of the crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region as he pushed for a diplomatic focus on behalf of Joe Biden administration. 

Notably, TPLF’s spokesperson Getachew Reda had denounced Obasanjo’s appointment, saying it would be 'naive to expect this mission to work' because of the AU's inherent bias towards Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The northern group of Ethiopia's war-torn Tigray region had also meanwhile rejected the bloc's appointment of former Nigerian president accusing the AU peace mediator of “partiality” towards the Ethiopian government that had rendered negotiations ineffective in the region wracked by violence since November last year. 

“We are hard-pressed to know how people would reasonably expect a constructive role from an institution that has given partiality a very bad name. Solving a crisis at the very least requires acknowledging the existence, let alone the magnitude, of the problem,” Getachew wrote on Twitter.

The members of the Security Council welcomed Olusegun Obasanjo’s strategy and efforts to achieve a ceasefire and a prompt and peaceful resolution of the conflict, as it strongly urged for cooperation with and support to the African Union High Representative.  Additionally, the council reaffirmed its “strong commitment” to the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity, and unity of Ethiopia. The political tensions between Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray leaders spiralled into a full-blown military confrontation last November 2020.

The war between rebel TPLF forces and Ethiopian soldiers led to the latter fleeing the Tigray capital in June. President Abiy declared a national state of emergency as he detained powers but the infighting between Tigray forces and Ethiopia’s government has been out of control over the last few months due to the months-long Ethiopian blockade on Tigray region. 

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Published November 6th, 2021 at 07:52 IST

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