(Source: EURACTIV.com with AFP) –
He briefed foreign ministers from the bloc’s 27 nations on the crisis at a meeting on Monday.
Haavisto told journalists that Ethiopia’s leadership had failed to provide a “clear picture” of the situation in Tigray — including the widely documented involvement of forces from neighbouring Eritrea.
“The question of Eritrean troops is extremely sensitive, so we don’t get the clear answer about the whereabouts or magnitude of the Eritrean troops,” he said.
Addis Ababa and Asmara both deny that Eritrean forces are involved in the conflict, contradicting eyewitness reports from civilians, aid workers and some military and government officials in Tigray.
The EU has joined the United States in demanding Eritrean troops withdraw.
Haavisto repeated urgent calls from the international community for the Ethiopian government to grant full humanitarian access to Tigray, including areas beyond its control.
“What we need from the Ethiopian government is the greenlight to the humanitarian community to negotiate access to the Eritrean-controlled areas, to the opposition-controlled areas,” he said.
The UN says that areas where 80% of the region’s population live remain cut off from assistance and tens of thousands have fled across the border into neighbouring Sudan.
Haavisto warned that Sudan is struggling to cope with the influx and that it risked spiralling into a new driver for refugees towards Europe.
“We are seeing the beginning of one more potentially big refugee crisis in the world,” Haavisto said.
“If you don’t influence it now then the circumstances will build so that there are more and more refugees coming.”
In December, Brussels announced it was postponing some €90 million in aid to Ethiopia over its failure to grant full humanitarian access to Tigray.