I propose to take Questions Nos. 415 and 425 together.
I am deeply concerned by the recent outbreak of armed conflict between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the regional authorities in Tigray and by reports of atrocities and targeting of ethnic groups. There are credible allegations of mass casualties, including civilian casualties, and of human rights abuses. There is a grave risk of a humanitarian crisis. Tigray is home to many refugees, displaced persons and local communities already coping with the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. If not contained, this conflict could threaten the stability of Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, and have serious regional implications for the wider Horn of Africa, one of the continent’s most fragile regions.
Ireland is actively supporting the efforts of the EU and wider international community to de-escalate the situation, including through engagement with the African Union which has appointed three Special Envoys. Minister Coveney has called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and the commencement of a national dialogue to de-escalate tensions. Minister Coveney has also condemned the reported atrocities and identity-based attacks. It is essential to ensure that the human rights of all Ethiopians are upheld. I am gravely concerned by reports that Ethiopia’s federal military has said civilians should protect themselves from heavy artillery, in advance of a planned assault against the regional capital. I urge all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law.
The situation in Ethiopia was raised by HRVP Borrell at a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers on 19 November. Minister Coveney intervened calling for continued EU efforts to push for a resolution of the crisis, and stressed the need to act fast and collectively to call for unconditional, unrestricted access for humanitarian actors to affected areas.
Ireland’s Embassy in Addis Ababa is engaging closely with other EU Heads of Mission, the UN and other members of the international community in monitoring, reporting and advocating on the situation and in preparing for an emergency humanitarian response.
Ireland’s largest bilateral development cooperation programme is in Ethiopia. The Embassy of Ireland is in the process of providing €416,000 to the humanitarian response in Tigray, along with a projected €500,000 to support refugees in Eastern Sudan. My Department is actively looking at ways to address other critical funding needs in light of the escalating humanitarian situation.