(Source: Lord David Alton, 17 December 2020) –
Following concerns expressed in the House of Lords about the plight of people being caught up in the horrors of war, Parliamentarians who have been following events in Tigray and Ethiopia have been asking some searching questions of the UK Government and the international community.
In a recent meeting with senior members of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Members of the Lords and Commons were told the following points:
- There are multiple credible reports that there are Eritreans fighting in Tigray.
- There are credible and deeply concerning reports that refugees have been abducted and/or returned to Eritrea.
- China (despite their position on non-interference in internal affairs) share concerns about the potential impact of the Tigray conflict on wider Ethiopian and regional stability. This is due to significant investments in the country, including Tigray.
- There is a growing international consensus that any involvement by regional parties would have a dangerous impact on regional stability.
- The Government of Ethiopia (GoE) has confirmed that it shot at a UN convoy but the UN hasn’t commented. The GoE now want the UN to travel in armed convoys but the UN haven’t agreed to that as yet.
- It is probable that there have been atrocities committed on both sides.
- There is a possibility that the TPLF engage in a protracted insurgency.
- Both Eritrea and Amhara are currently occupying land in Tigray. That Amhara and Eritrea have moved into areas of Tigray increases the risks of popular support among Tigrayans.
- While the expectation is that federal Ethiopia holds together, protracted ethnic conflict within Ethiopia – in and beyond Tigray – means that disintegration cannot be discounted.
- The Ethiopian Government have stopped humanitarian aid from reaching their own people.
- An additional £5 million has been made available by HMG to Sudan to assist with the refugee crisis.