Press Releases Ethiopia: Speech on behalf of High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP debate on the humanitarian and human rights situation in Tigray

Ethiopia: Speech on behalf of High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP debate on the humanitarian and human rights situation in Tigray

Speech delivered by Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski

Thank you Mr President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament.

Thank you for bringing the situation in Ethiopia back to the agenda. The situation in Tigray is one of the worst man-made humanitarian crisis in the world. According to the World Food Programme, 13 million people across the Tigray, Afar and Amhara regions are in need of food assistance as a direct result of the conflict. At the same time, Ethiopia is experiencing the most severe drought recorded since 1981, leaving an estimated 7.4 million people facing grave food insecurity. The European Union has so far allocated around €66 million of humanitarian aid to Ethiopia in 2022.

The resumption of fighting severely hampers even more humanitarian aid delivery in northern Ethiopia. The supply of humanitarian commodities and fuel, as well as cash availability and public services, are still totally blocked for Tigray and greatly impeded in all affected areas in Amhara and Afar. Humanitarian organisations had to suspend their operations and withdraw some staff from conflict-affected areas. This is a serious blow to humanitarian operations and to millions of highly vulnerable people in Tigray, Afar and Amhara that depend on humanitarian aid for their survival.

There is only one solution to improve this situation, and this solution is political – not military. This is why the European Union calls on all warrying parties to stop fighting and engage in negotiations. We cannot impose from the outside and we will continue engaging with like-minded partners to support an African solution to this African crisis, so as to prevent further human suffering and further regionalisation of the conflict.

The European Union recalls that granting unhindered access to humanitarian organisations, so that they can reach all people in need, in line with the principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence, is an obligation under International Humanitarian Law. It is not an option, it is an obligation. So it is the duty of all parties to the conflict to ensure the safety and security of civilians, humanitarian workers and humanitarian assets, notably by strict application of the principles of precautions and distinction in the conduct of hostilities.

The European Union is also appalled by the gravity and scale of human rights violations and abuses, perpetrated by all parties to the conflict, since its beginning. Those allegations must be investigated, and accountability ensured. There will be no durable peace, no reconciliation, without justice for the victims. The European Union will present a resolution at the Human Rights Council renewing the mandate of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia to allow for further comprehensive, independent and transparent investigations and accountability mechanisms to complement national efforts.

The European Union does not forget the people of Tigray and those suffering from this man-made crisis. Two years have passed since the start of the conflict. There is no more time to lose.

Thank you.

Link to the video (starting as of 27:48):

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