Photo: President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (right) with members of the all-female Indian Formed Police Unit serving with the UN Mission in Liberia in February 2016. Credit: Emmanuel Tobey/UNMIL - Photo: 2020

European Parliament in A Joint Resolution Urges Ethiopia to Tread the Path of Peace and Dialogue

By L. Storchi

BRUSSELS (IDN | EEPA) – On November 26, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) held a plenary debate on the current situation in Ethiopia and the conflict in the Horn of Africa region. The speakers called for de-escalation and a resumption of the dialogue for peace between the Ethiopian federal government and representatives of the Tigray region. The discussion followed a draft Joint Motion for a Resolution on November 25, supported by several parliamentarians from different political parties. The motion was adopted by the European Parliament. European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic announced plans to visit Sudan to speak to refugees.

The words that Prime Minister Abiy expressed on the occasion of receiving the Nobel Peace Prize 2019, on December 2019, were taken up by several parliamentarians such as Z. Zovko and H. Heide to underline the contrast between his commitment to cooperation and peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea and his current actions in the Tigray region.

Several other parliamentarians (C. Zorrinho, A. Kanko and E. Roughly) further underlined the differences between the political results achieved a year ago and the escalation of violence that has been taking place for three weeks now. All parliamentarians called for a peaceful dialogue between all parties involved and hoped that the three senior African Envoy representatives sent to Addis Ababa, together with the mediation work carried out by the African Union, could put an end to human rights violations.

Members of the European Parliament L. Berg and C. Zorrinho and European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic himself recall how the Ethiopian constitution provides for secession in order to respect the freedoms of the individual peoples that make up the State of Ethiopia and how this possibility is provided also to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.

MEPs A. Kanko and J.C. Oetjen stressed the need to restore access, power and connectivity in the Tigray region so that humanitarian organisations can assist the internally displaced population, who are under pressure from water, food and sanitation shortages. They recalled that more than 40,000 refugees have crossed the border into Sudan in the last weeks and tens of thousands of internally displaced persons are facing serious difficulties.

For the displaced persons and refugees in Tigray, the humanitarian crisis risks being prolonged. MEP F. M. Castaldo underlined the need to immediately stop any violation of human rights, stressing how the massacre of 600 unarmed civilians in the city of Mai Kadra (on November 9) can be considered as a war crime. There are conflicting accounts as to the perpetration of the massacre.

The dangers of ethnic profiling and inter-ethnic violence were also taken up by EPP (European People’s Party) MEP speaker S. Kelly and Renew Europe MEP speaker N. Stefanuta, as well as by the Commissioner J. Lenarcic in his closing speech.

MEP C. Goerens, on the other hand, suggested the need for an approach based not only on the appeals for peace and the mediation of the AU, but also on the possibility for the Development Commission to “[…] discuss the suspension mechanism that could be put in place in case of this crisis” continuing.

Commissioner Lenarcic concluded the plenary session by stating that he and the High Representative for External Action, Mr. Josep Borrell, express great concern about the alleged war crimes committed by the Abiy Federal Government and by the representatives of the TPLF.

He has indicate that it is imperative that human rights are respected, and where there have been abuses and violations, those are investigated, in order to identify those who perpetrated the crimes. He said he had contacted UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michel Bachelet, as well as several intergovernmental human rights organizations in order to stop violence as soon as possible.

In addition, he will visit Sudan next week to show solidarity with the Sudanese government and with the aim to meet the refugees. High Representative Borrell, in his meeting with the Ethiopian authorities, underlined how the principle of international law must be respected even in a context of hostility. “[p]lans of targeting civilians must be avoided at any price by all parties. During my meeting with the Ethiopian Deputy Minister” on November 25, I recalled the obligation of all parties involved in the conflict without distinction to protect civilians, guaranteeing their free movement”.

On November 26 the resolution was adopted with 643 votes in favour out of 694 total votes. [IDN-InDepthNews – 27 November 2020]

Photo: European Parliament Brussels. Credit: The Brussels Times.

IDN is flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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