UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, calls for “immediate withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Tigray and unfettered humanitarian access to Tigray”

Editorial Eritrea Ethiopia Tigray

(Source: fcdo.gov.uk, by Mekete Tigray UK)  –

The United Kingdom has called for the immediate withdrawal of Eritrean troops from the Tigray amid increasing atrocities, rape, destruction and looting of properties committed in Tigray.

UK minister for Africa, James Duddridge said on Wednesday; his government was concerned about report from Ethiopian Human Rights Commission on the situation in the conflict-hit Tigray region.

The Minister for Africa James Duddridge also said: “The UK remains deeply concerned about the situation in Tigray, following reports of continued violence, ethnic discrimination and dire shortages of food, water, fuel and cash. People across the region will face further suffering, if the ongoing challenges humanitarian agencies accessing Tigray do not improve. We have repeatedly called on all parties involved to urgently allow unfettered access and for the independent investigation of alleged violations of human rights.”

“The UK is concerned about this important report from @EthioHRC on the situation in Tigray, Ethiopia, noting the presence of Eritrean soldiers in the region. we call for their immediate withdrawal, as they are fuelling conflict.” James Duddridge tweeted.

It is the fist time the UK has demanded Eritrea troops to pull out from Tigray and the statement comes weeks after the US and the EU said Eritrean Forces should leave Tigray immediately.

Over the past few weeks, there have been reports that Eritrean troops, Ethiopian Federal Army, Amhara special forces and militias stepped up looting and destruction of properties including the historical 6th century Debre Demo monastery in the region and committed mass killings, rape, war crimes against humanity and gross human rights abuses in Wukro, Mekele, Adigrat, Abi Adi, Shire, Aksum, Adwa, Maychew, Edaga Hamus, Hawzien, Nebelet,  Edaga Arbi and other small towns and villages.

International experts have also raised the alarm over reports of “cultural cleansing” in the heritage-rich region with thefts and destruction of centuries-old artefacts at historically significant sites. In one recent alleged incident, troops from neighbouring Eritrea, which is backing government forces, ransacked manuscripts from the remains of the remote sixth-century Debre Damo monastery after clambering 80ft up a cliff to reach it.

Other buildings on the flat-topped mountain of debre Damo monastery that were also “completely destroyed” included the monks’ ancient dwellings and the earliest existing church in Ethiopia that is still in its original style, according to the Europe External Programme with Africa.

Attacks have also been reported in recent months at the seventh century mosque of Negash, one of Africa’s oldest, and the Church of St Mary of Zion, which many Ethiopian Christians believe houses the Ark of the Covenant.

The Debre Damo Monastery in Tigray can only be reached by scaling 80ft cliffs
Debre Damo Monastery is on the flat-topped mountain in Eatern Tigray

Alessandro Bausi, an expert in Ethiopic texts and manuscripts at Hamburg University, said he had heard from multiple sources that key sites were being targeted and “irreplaceable” artefacts destroyed or pillaged.

Debre Damo is magnificent in terms of its location and extensive collection of priceless manuscripts that have remained intact until today. It has become a prominent monastic and educational centre for the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Many books have been written there and distributed to churches throughout Ethiopia.

Now, “the Ethiopian Federal Army, Eritrean Army and Amhara Forces have been bombed and looted of its ancient treasures”, The Times reported.

Debre Damo Monastery is only accessible by climbing up by a rope, which is made of “plaited leather”, lowered from the cliffs, which visitors tie around their waist and are then pulled up by a monk at the top of the cliffs.

Although, the Ethiopian government still denies the presence of Eritrean troops in Tigray, there have been well documented eyewitnesses, and multiple video footages showing Eritrean forces in Tigray, many of which showing them involved in destroying and looting properties as well as beating and killings people in the streets of Mekele, Debretsion Abay, Shire, Edga Arbi, Hawzien, Abi Adi, Adigrat, Wukro and Adwa.

 

 

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