Addis Abeba, February 10/2021 – In a statement it released on February 09, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said “the Government of Ethiopia is deeply concerned by the statements the European Union is issuing regarding the situation in Tigray,” and blamed the EU for issuing a statement which not only failed to “reflect the reality on the ground but also turned a blind eye to the efforts exerted by the Government to address pressing humanitarian needs,” of the people in Tigray region.
However, Ethiopia’s statement completely avoided to respond to EU’s statement that the bloc “joins the United States’ call for the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia, which are fueling the conflict in Tigray, reportedly committing atrocities, and exacerbating ethnic violence.” On February 05, the US, through its embassy in Asmara, Eritrea’s capital, renewed the administration’s earlier call for “the Eritrean government to withdraw its forces from Tigray immediately.”
Both Addis Abeba and Asmara deny the reports but overwhelming evidence, including an admission by Ethiopia’s top general leading the Northern Command, Major General Belay Seyoum, and officials of the Tigray interim administration appointed by the federal government, have long verified the presence and participation of Eritrean forces in the armed conflict in Tigray.
EU’s latest statement was issued on the eve of the visit by Pekka Haavisto, Finland’s Foreign Minister, to Sudan and Ethiopia at the request of EU High Representative Josep Borrell “due to the crisis in Tigray, Ethiopia,” Foreign Minister Haavisto said.
Full Statement by the Government of Ethiopia
Press Release on Recent Statements of the European Union Regarding the Humanitarian Assistance Efforts of the FDR of Ethiopia in the Tigray Region
The Government of Ethiopia is deeply concerned by the statements the European Union is issuing regarding the situation in Tigray. These statements not only failed to reflect the reality on the ground but also turned a blind eye to the efforts exerted by the Government to address the pressing humanitarian needs of the people in the region.
In what seems an unchanging tone since the Ethiopian Government has launched the law enforcement operation, the EU Commission’s statements have either ignored or failed the need to recognize from the start the overall objective of the operation and continued to project unbalanced and overrated view of the situation. Even if the law enforcement measure taken against those who defied the constitutional order and declared war on the Ethiopian National Defense Forces came to a successful completion, and massive efforts in collaboration with our partners have been launched to respond to the needs of the people in the region, the list of demands and conditions have made the task of soliciting the necessary amount of support to swiftly address the humanitarian activities difficult. If at all, constructive engagement from the start could have contributed to expediting the response and helped the Government and partners quickly delve into the colossal task of investing in the development projects to improve the livelihoods of the people in the region.
As has been stated time and again in many of the Government’s communications and briefings given to the international community, access to many of the humanitarian actors has been given to many of the places in Tigray under a government-led process. This is critical because it both helps to scale up the provision of humanitarian assistance in a coordinated manner, and enhance results in terms of reaching out to a large number of targeted groups and beneficiaries. These efforts were made apparent for all to see, including governments and UN officials who recently paid a visit to Ethiopia.
While the Government ensures all people in need of humanitarian assistance are properly provided with the necessary supplies, it has never failed in its responsibility to investigate the human rights violations committed during the law enforcement operation against the TPLF and bring those who were involved and perpetrators harbored these criminals to justice. Such investigations have also been carried out by an independent human rights commission in the country whose findings and that of the Government are now made publicly available.
As a country known for hosting close to a million refugees from different countries, Ethiopia’s hospitality and support to refugees from Eritrea is reassuring and questions raised in this regard are not and should be of no concern. Regarding the allegations about the Eritrean refugee camps in Shimelba and Hitsats, anyone who has been closely working with the refugees there knows that the Shimelba camp is located 20 KM away from Eritrea, and Hitsats in a very inhospitable area to any human beings. The Government of Ethiopia had tried to relocate the refugees in these camps to another area had it not been for the stubborn refusal of the TPLF that was administering the region before the beginning of the law enforcement operation. The Ethiopian Government does not think the High Representative of the EU was unaware of this fact. A number of refugees have been relocated to the remaining two camps that host Eritrean refugees while the others are disbursed in Addis Abeba, Tigray and Amhara regions. The High Representative’s allegation against Ethiopia in this regard does not take into account Ethiopia’s internationally acclaimed commitment to protecting and even expanding the rights of about one million refugees from 27 different countries.
It is the view of the Ethiopian Government that it is of no consequences to pronounce concerns that has been and in the process of being attained to in the Tigray region. It is only through constructive engagement that the aforesaid and other humanitarian and development challenges can effectively be addressed. As a strategic partner, the European Union should continue to stand by and support Ethiopia in its efforts to overcome its development bottlenecks and expedite its march towards achieving sustainable peace and development. Much has been achieved since the political and democratic dispensation have ushered in since the reform began, and the people and Government of Ethiopia stand strong in their resolve to build a democratic and prosperous country. Ethiopia is confident our development partners, including the European Union, join us in this journey and help us achieve to bring these grand objectives to fruition.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
February 09, 202