UN Security Council calls for end to fighting in Ethiopia | United Nations News

The United Nations Security Council has for the first time called for an end to hostilities in Ethiopia, urging the warring parties to negotiate a “lasting ceasefire”.

The year-long conflict between federal government troops and Tigrayan forces has left thousands dead and displaced more than 2.5 million people. The UN has said up to 7 million people in Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions need assistance, including 5 million in Tigray, where some 400,000 people are estimated to live. in conditions close to starvation.

A Security Council meeting scheduled to take place on Friday has been postponed until early next week, shortly before it takes place.

Instead, in a joint press release, the 15 members of the most powerful UN body “expressed deep concern over the expansion and intensification of military clashes in the north of the country. ‘Ethiopia’.

The Security Council further called on all parties to refrain “from all inflammatory hate speech and incitement to violence and division” and urged them “to end hostilities and negotiate a ceasefire. sustainable fire ”. Council members also called for free access to humanitarian aid and the restoration of public services, among others.

Members had been negotiating a statement for several days and eventually reached a compromise with Russia on the text, diplomats said.

“There had been discussions, we understand, about a draft declaration which had been drafted mainly by Ireland and Kenya calling for a cessation of hostilities,” said Mika Hanna of Al Jazeera, reporting from UN headquarters.

“We understand that Russia, in particular, objected to some terms of this particular statement, but the President of the Security Council came out and read the statement,” only the second by the council last year. Hanna noted that Mexican Ambassador to the UN Juan Ramón de la Fuente Ramírez, chairman of the council for November, “was trying to underscore his point of view that the Security Council was not divided on this issue. “, he added.

With the meeting now due to take place on Monday, the involvement of neighboring Kenya was absolutely critical according to a number of diplomats who spoke with Al Jazeera.

“The reason is that the current opinion in the Security Council is that African problems require African solutions; there must be direct African involvement in resolving this crisis, hence the desire for the African Union to take the initiative with Ethiopia’s African neighbors, ”Hanna said.

Months of political tension between the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and leaders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF), which once dominated the Ethiopian government, exploded into war in November 2020.

After some of the fiercest fighting in the conflict, Ethiopian soldiers fled Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, in June.

In recent weeks, the conflict has spread beyond the borders of Tigray, into the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar.

Tigrayan forces, which have entered into an alliance with the Oromo Liberation Army, said they had seized key towns on a major road leading to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and threatened to march towards it. The Ethiopian government accused the Tigrayan forces of exaggerating their territorial gains.

Much of northern Ethiopia is under a communications blackout and journalists’ access is restricted, making claims on the battlefield difficult to independently verify.

As the international community grows worried about the prospect of all-out war in Africa’s second most populous country, the federal armed forces on Friday called on retired soldiers and veterans to join the army, setting the registration deadline for November 24.

Last week, the government also declared a six-month state of emergency and local authorities asked civilians in the capital to register their weapons and prepare to defend their neighborhoods.

On Friday, the United States Embassy in Addis Ababa advised all American citizens to leave the country “as soon as possible”, calling the security situation “very fluid”.

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