Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (335)

Seán Haughey


335. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if Ireland will raise the continuing conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia at the UN Security Council; if the council will be appraised by Ireland of the need for urgent international action in respect of this regional conflict and to call for an end to ongoing military operations in Tigray; if the council can also be requested to call for the withdrawal of Eritrean forces from Ethiopian territory and to establish an international investigation into potential war crimes committed in Tigray during the conflict; if he will support full access for humanitarian assistance for Tigray; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8197/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The ongoing armed conflict between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the former regional authorities in Tigray, which began on 4 November, remains a major concern for Ireland. The conflict has had a devastating impact on the population of Tigray, and poses severe risks to the stability of the wider Horn of Africa region.

Since the outbreak of hostilities in Tigray, there have been allegations of war crimes and of crimes against humanity. Ireland strongly support calls by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for independent, impartial, thorough and transparent investigations into these allegations, to ensure accountability and, where appropriate, justice.

Ireland support the EU’s call for the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia, whose presence remains a barrier to humanitarian access and is linked to alleged atrocities. Ireland is strongly supportive of regional efforts to try to find a resolution to the crisis in Tigray, including the work of three African Union Special Envoys.

Ireland raised the Tigray situation at the UN Security Council on 3 February, expressing deep concern at the humanitarian situation in Tigray and calling for unhindered humanitarian access. Ireland also called on all parties in Tigray to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law including those related to the protection of civilians and prevention of sexual and gender-based violence. Ireland will continue to advocate for an urgent response to the humanitarian situation, and for a peaceful resolution to the conflict through bilateral engagement, our EU membership and at the UN Security Council.

In his contacts with key interlocutors, Minister Coveney calls on all parties to cease hostilities, respect international humanitarian law and begin dialogue, as well as for immediate and unhindered humanitarian access to affected areas. He has condemned reported atrocities and identity-based attacks, and has called for the human rights of all Ethiopians to be upheld. The Minister continues to engage with key EU, regional and other actors in this regard, including in Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Pretoria.

My Department, through Irish Aid, has provided over €2.6 million to date to support the humanitarian response to the Tigray crisis. This includes €1.4 million to Irish NGOs within Tigray, €500,000 to the UN refugee agency to support the refugee response in neighbouring Sudan, and almost €750,000 towards humanitarian stocks, and supports for the protection of women and girls.