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World

'Deep concern' at UN Security Council over Tigray crisis

  • African members in turn have favored mediation by the African Union.
Published April 23, 2021

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously approved a statement expressing "deep concern" over widespread rights violations in Ethiopia's Tigray region, its first statement on the conflict since it began in November 2020.

The statement's wording has been in negotiation since April 15, when the UN's aid chief told the Security Council that people have started to die of hunger in the region, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated, and sexual violence is being used as a weapon of war.

The next day Eritrea announced the departure of its soldiers from Tigray, but categorically rejected the UN assertions.

In the statement, the Security Council members "expressed their deep concern about allegations of human rights violations and abuses," and called "for investigations to find those responsible and bring them to justice."

They also called for "a scaled up humanitarian response and unfettered humanitarian access to all people in need," and reiterated their "strong support for regional efforts and sub-regional" efforts to resolve the conflict.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray in November to disarm and detain leaders of the region's once dominant political party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

For months the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments denied Eritrean troops were involved, contradicting testimony from residents, rights groups, aid workers, diplomats and even some Ethiopian civilian and military officials.

At the Security Council, several members including China and Russia blocked calls for an end to the violence because they said it was an internal matter.

African members in turn have favored mediation by the African Union.

The measure was introduced by Ireland.

"For the first time," Ireland's United Nations ambassador Byrne Nason said, the Security Council "breaks its silence" on the conflict and "speaks with one voice to express its collective concern about the dire humanitarian situation on the ground."

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