“Thousands of civilians have lost their lives” EU
Addis Abeba, February 26/2021 – The European Union (EU) called for immediate cessation of hostilities to end the ongoing armed conflict in Tigray regional state. In a joint Statement by HR/VP Borrell and Commissioner Lenarčič on massacres in Axum, the EU said ” this is another harrowing reminder of the violence that civilians in Tigray have been suffering since the onset of the conflict.” The EU also called for an “immediate, full and unfettered access to the whole of Tigray for all humanitarian actors and the media allowed.”
The Ethiopian government has granted seven international media to travel to Tigray this week and urged them “to report accurately and truthfully as well as professionally.” Permission is grated to AFP, Al Jazeera, New York Times, France 24, Reuters, BBC, and Financial Times.
In its statement the EU condemned, “in the strongest possible terms, all crimes against civilians and call for the perpetrators to be swiftly brought to justice.”
“We recall the obligation under International Humanitarian Law for all parties to ensure the protection of all civilians, including refugees and those internally displaced.”
The statement further said that since the outbreak of the conflict more than 100 days ago, “thousands of civilians have lost their lives and reportedly 80% of the population remain cut off from external assistance, facing rising food insecurity and malnutrition. The level of suffering endured by civilians, including children, is appalling. This must cease immediately. Full access is essential to assess the situation on the ground and provide adequate protection and assistance to those who desperately need it.”
On February 23, EU appointed envoy Pekka Haavisto, Finnish minister for foreign affairs, told the media after his trip to Ethiopia that the Ethiopian government is in “denial” over the scale of the crisis in Tigray. “In the public domain, there is still also some kind of denial of the magnitude of the problems in the country,” FM Haavisto said. He also said that the conflict is “out of control” and what the EU needs “from the Ethiopian government is the greenlight to the humanitarian community to negotiate access to the Eritrean-controlled areas, to the opposition-controlled areas.” AS