The UN Secretary-General said on Monday it was “essential to quickly restore the rule of law” in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray, where Government forces and those loyal to the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have been engaged in fighting for more than a month.
A Government offensive began after TPLF forces reportedly attacked a federal military base on 4 November. With communications and transportation links cut, Government forces have reportedly taken control of the regional capital Mekelle, although the TPLF claims that it is now mounting an insurgency, according to news reports.
On #Ethiopia, Secretary-General @antonioguterres calls for guaranteed unfettered humanitarian access. He has been speaking to @UN representatives on the ground and regional leaders, as well as Prime Minister @AbiyAhmedAli. https://t.co/RgFcpps3rk pic.twitter.com/Hpn9I1kEoQ— UN Spokesperson (@UN_Spokesperson) December 7, 2020
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed described TPLF leaders as a “criminal clique” on Monday, denying that their local forces were capable of a protracted insurgency
Respect rights, ‘inclusive reconciliation’
In a statement released by his Spokesperson, the UN chief António Guterres said it was essential for the rule of law to be restored, “in full respect for human rights, (to) promote social cohesion, an inclusive reconciliation, as well as to re-establish the delivery of public services and guarantee unfettered humanitarian access.”
Last Friday, UN aid coordinators with the humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, said they were “working at full speed” to secure full aid access to Tigray, after a deal was struck to help tens of thousands of civilians displaced by the weeks of fighting between federal and regional forces.
More than 47,000 Ethiopian refugees have fled across the border into Sudan, and around 96,000 Eritrean refugees being hosted in camps in Tigray, were reported by the World Food Programme (WFP) to have essentially run out of food.
In all around two million are in need of assistance in and around Tigray, with a million displaced due to the fighting, the UN estimates.
UN ‘totally committed’ to providing support
Mr. Guterres said the UN remained fully committed to supporting an African Union (AU)-led initiative effort to seek a lasting and peaceful resolution to the conflict between federal and local forces over Tigray.
“We also remain fully committed to mobilizing the full capacity of the United Nations to provide humanitarian support to refugees, displaced people and all populations in distress”, the statement concluded.
“The Secretary-General has also been conveying these messages in the numerous conversations he has had with United Nations representatives on the ground and regional leaders, as well as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia with whom he spoke today.”