Brussels, Belgium (PANA) - The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union is painting a grim picture of the situation on the ground in Ethiopia, saying it goes well beyond a purely internal "law and order" operation.
In a statement on Friday, Josep Borrell said: "We receive consistent reports of ethnic-targeted violence, killings, massive looting, rapes, forceful returns of refugees and possible war crimes."
He said more than two million people had been internally displaced, adding that while people were in dire need of aid, access to the affected region remained limited, which made it very difficult to deliver humanitarian assistance.
Moreover, Mr Borrell said there were regional spill-over effects of the conflict, with, for instance, Eritrean troops being involved in the military operations in Tigray and with Ethiopian troops being withdrawn from Somalia.
The EU foreign affairs chief said 55,000 refugees had fled to Sudan and tensions grew dangerously at the border between Sudan and Ethiopia.
"By affecting or involving other countries, the conflict is also a direct threat to the stability of the whole region," Mr. Borrell said.
The conflict between the Ethiopian Government and regional forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) began in early November, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military offensive after rebels attacked a federal army base.
Government forces reported that the region had been secured at the end of November, but TPLF resistance had continued amid accusations of extrajudicial killings and rights abuses.
The Ethiopian government has said many TPLF leaders have either been killed in fighting or had been captured, while the search for others was continuing.
Mr. Borrell noted that in October 2019, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his firm efforts to achieve peace, in particular with neighbouring Eritrea, and for promoting peace and reconciliation in the country and in the East and Northeast African regions.
"Today, the world needs Ethiopia’s Prime Minister and his government to live up to this prestigious recognition - by doing all it takes to end the conflict."
Mr. Borrell said, as an immediate first step, the Ethiopian authorities must comply fully with international humanitarian law and ensure that people in need get access to life-saving aid.
"It is in the best interest of Ethiopia and the wider region to allow humanitarian access and to resume the path towards an inclusive and sustainable peace," he said.
"I hope we will be able to work out swiftly a favourable outcome with the authorities and we are ready to meet government representatives in Addis Ababa very soon. As EU, we will continue to do our part, in cooperation with the African Union," he stated.
-0- PANA MA/RA 16Jan2021