Bachelet: De-escalate the Volatile Situation in Ethiopia's Tigray and Oromo Regions
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Bachelet: De-escalate the Volatile Situation in Ethiopia's Tigray and Oromo Regions

Bachelet: De-escalate the Volatile Situation in the Ethiopia's Tigray and Oromo Regions

On November 6, 2020, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on all relevant actors to de-escalate the volatile situation in the Ethiopian region of Tigray and to engage in an inclusive dialogue aimed at resolving grievances without resorting to violence.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is pursuing a military campaign he announced on November 4 (Wednesday), despite international pleas for dialogue with the Tigray People`s Liberation Front (TPLF) rather than risk civil war. Tigrayans dominated Ethiopian politics for decades until Abiy took office in 2018 and are fighting his efforts to reduce their influence.

“Over the past week, we have seen alarming violence erupt in the Oromia region as well as in Tigray. I urge all sides to halt the violence, to avoid additional loss of life, mass displacement, and further destabilization,” Bachelet said.

“I call on all actors to engage in a genuine, inclusive, and credible dialogue to solve any differences through peaceful means.”

Heavy clashes reportedly broke out on Wednesday in the northern region of Tigray between federal and regional troops, and the Federal Council declared a six-month state of emergency. The Government announced that this was in response to an alleged attack by the TPLF on a military base. This came after months of tensions between the federal government and the Tigray Regional State's authorities.

The High Commissioner expressed concern about the restrictions imposed on the people of Tigray, including the rights to freedom of movement and freedom of expression. Internet connections and telephone lines have been cut since November 3, hampering the local population's ability to communicate and receive vital information, including about the fast-unfolding situation in their region.

“Cutting off communication has severely hampered the ability to monitor the situation on the ground, particularly the impact of the clashes in the local population,” Bachelet said. “I call on the national authorities to re-establish all basic services, including Internet and telephone connections. The right of all people to be informed and to access information is particularly vital in a crisis situation.”

Bachelet also expressed concern at reports indicating that a group of armed assailants assaulted members of the Amhara ethnic group in Wollega zone, Oromia region, on Sunday, November 1. According to the Government, the attack resulted in the killing of 32 people. Other sources have reported that the number of casualties could be much higher.

“Unaddressed, such violence only leaves desolation, feeds revenge and leads to further intercommunal clashes and to more casualties and displacement in the country,” she said.

“I call for prompt, thorough, independent, and impartial investigations into all of these incidents and for the Government to ensure those responsible are held accountable. I also call on the federal and regional authorities to ensure the protection of the population and to establish across the country the necessary social, economic, security and political measures to break the cycle of violence and foster trust among communities,” the UN High Commissioner said.

“I am confident that Ethiopians can succeed on the path to social inclusion and economic and social development with full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. They can count on the support of my Office.”

Nine million people risk displacement from the escalating conflict in Ethiopia`s Tigray region, the United Nations said in a report published on Saturday, warning that the government`s declaration on Wednesday of a state of emergency in Tigray was blocking food and other aid. 

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