UN Chief Calls for Halt to Fighting in Ethiopia
By Margaret Besheer August 19, 2021
The U.N. secretary-general appealed Thursday for a cessation of hostilities in Ethiopia, unrestricted aid access and an Ethiopian-led political dialogue, in a bid to end the 10-month-old conflict in the northern Tigray region.
"It is time for all parties to recognize that there is no military solution and it is vital to preserve the unity and stability of Ethiopia, which is critical to the region and beyond," Antonio Guterres told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York.
On June 28, the Ethiopian government announced an immediate, unilateral humanitarian cease-fire after nearly eight months of fighting with Tigrayan forces. But fighting has continued and the prime minister recently urged all Ethiopians to join the fight.
Tigrayan fighters reclaimed control of the regional capital, Mekelle, after Ethiopian government forces withdrew and in the weeks since the cease-fire was announced, they have entered into the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara. The U.N. says that has resulted in the displacement of thousands of civilians.
The U.N. says humanitarian access within Tigray has significantly improved — with about 75% of the area now accessible — but aid agencies have been hindered by a lack of supplies, cash, banking services, fuel and telecommunications.
Of the 6 million people who live in Tigray, the U.N. says 5.2 million need some level of food assistance. Over 400,000 people are already living in famine-like conditions, and another 1.8 million people are on the brink of famine.
"Now is the time to put an end to the suffering," Guterres said.
The U.N. chief said he has had contacts with the African Union leadership and also expressed support for U.S. initiatives.
U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman is in the region to discuss ways of promoting peace and stability there.
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