UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo has said the risk of Ethiopia “descending into widening civil war is only too real”, adding that the political repercussions of “intensifying violence in the wider region would be immense, compounding the many crises besetting the Horn of Africa”.
Addressing the Security Council on Monday, the UN under-secretary-general for political and peacebuilding affairs said, despite much speculation on how the Ethiopian crisis will unfold in the coming weeks, “in a country of over 110 million people, over 90 different ethnic groups and 80 languages, no one can predict what continued fighting and insecurity will bring”.
She said more than seven million people needed humanitarian assistance in northern Ethiopia alone, with an estimated 400,000 people in Tigray living in famine-like conditions.
She said, while some emergency supplies have been moved, it has been four months since the last big shipment of medicines and health supplies into Tigray which is home to about six million people.
The UN official said the report of the Joint Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights or OHCHR-Ethiopian Human Rights Commission investigation into the conflict in Tigray released last week shed light on the horrific suffering civilians have endured.
The report concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that all parties to the conflict – including the Ethiopian National Defence Force, Eritrean Defence Force, Amhara Special Forces and allied militia on one side and Tigrayan forces on the other – committed violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law. It also stated that war crimes and crimes against humanity may have been also committed.
DiCarlo said there must be an immediate cessation of hostilities, as called for by the UN secretary-general, African Union Commission chair, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) executive secretary, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and the UN Security Council.
She said, “Ethiopia, a founding member of the United Nations, needs our support. We urge Ethiopians to come together to build a shared, prosperous future before it is too late.”