Panafrican News Agency

Ethiopian Crisis: ‘Quickly restore the rule of law’ in Ethiopia’s Tigray, urges Guterres

New York, US (PANA) - 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.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed described TPLF leaders as a “criminal clique” on Monday, denying that their local forces were capable of a protracted insurgency.

In a statement released by his Spokesperson, the UN chief Antonio 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.

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 mobilising the full capacity of the United Nations to provide humanitarian support to refugees, displaced people and all populations in distress,” the statement said.

“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,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Government of Ethiopia says it is working closely with relevant humanitarian agencies and UN partners to extend protection and humanitarian assistance to those who are impacted alongside the tasks to bringing the TPLF leadership to justice.

According to a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister on Monday, "after the capture of Mekelle, without civilian causalities and destruction of property" ... the current task of the Federal Government mainly includes bringing fugitives to justice, restoring law and order in Tigray Regional State.

The state-owned Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) quoted the  statement as saying that "guaranteeing citizens in the affected areas to have unfettered access to humanitarian assistance, resettling and rehabilitating those who have been forced to cross borders and restoring transport and communications services that have been destroyed and disrupted by the criminal clique, remain utmost priorities of the government".

-0- PANA MA 8Dec2020