In a joint statement ahead of US president Joe Biden’s visit in Brussels this week (13 – 15 June), the EU and the US draw attention to the humanitarian crisis in Tigray where hostilities between the central government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) erupted last year.
The situation in Tigray – one of Ethiopia’s ten regions with a population of about 6 million – deteriorated in the beginning of November when TPLF forces attacked government military installations in the region.
The Ethiopian government considers the conflict an internal issue and a matter of protecting its constitutional order and territorial integrity. The government forces took relatively quickly control of the region in what it described as a brief military operation and assured that it could handle the refugee crisis and access to humanitarian assistance.
However, according to the joint statement, the situation has become worse since then. “Seven months into the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, human rights atrocities and the full-blown humanitarian crisis are alarming, currently pushing 400,000 innocent people to the brink of famine and loss of life. This must be addressed immediately.”
“Of the 6 million in Tigray, 5.2 million people are facing hunger and requiring emergency food assistance. With 90 percent of the population in extreme need of humanitarian aid, the stakes could not be higher. We have continuously called for an end to the violence and for unfettered humanitarian access to all parts of Tigray, but we are witnessing increasing restrictions.”
The statement also calls on the Ethiopian and Eritrean authorities to ensure that Eritrean armed forces withdraw from Ethiopia immediately, in line with its previous commitment.
“We wish to see a democratic and peaceful Ethiopia, where all its people can build a shared vision for the country's future and lay the foundation for sustainable and equitable economic growth and prosperity,” the statement ends. “We are committed to supporting Ethiopia and building on the partnership between us.”
The statement is signed by EU High Representative Josep Borrell and USAID Administrator Samantha Power. The EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, respectively for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, have also signed it.
The Brussels Times