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Foreign Policy

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 23 November 2021

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Questions (321)

Francis Noel Duffy


321. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the status of the situation in Ethiopia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57345/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am gravely concerned by the worsening situation in Tigray and other parts of Ethiopia, including the recent escalation in military operations and declaration of a state of emergency, all of which are magnifying the ongoing humanitarian crisis. These developments are deeply worrying for the people of Ethiopia, and raise questions regarding the stability of the Horn of Africa region as a whole.

Through our bilateral engagements, as well as within the European Union and at the UN Security Council, Ireland continues to advocate for urgent and unimpeded humanitarian access, a negotiated ceasefire, and political dialogue aimed at resolving the conflict.

I am alarmed by the conflict’s impact on civilians, including harrowing reports of widespread and ongoing sexual violence, and other serious violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. Accountability for violations of international law committed by all parties, including as described in the recent joint Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights/Ethiopian Human Rights Commission report, is essential.

There has been a shocking rise in hate speech, arbitrary arrests and detentions, including of UN staff, and other acts likely to fuel tensions. Human rights, democracy and fundamental freedoms are universal and inalienable values that States must uphold. No individual should be deprived of their liberty without legal authority, or without necessary procedural protections.

It is clear there can be no military solution to this crisis. I strongly support the efforts of African Union Envoy, former Nigerian President Obasanjo, and by President Kenyatta of Kenya to mediate a way forward.

Ireland has been to the fore of efforts to address the conflict at the Security Council. On 5 November, we secured agreement on the first Council statement in six months on the situation, which called for a cessation of hostilities and ceasefire negotiations, alongside respect of international humanitarian law, safe and unhindered humanitarian access, the re-establishment of public services, and the scaling up of humanitarian assistance.

We continue to push for a strong and constructive EU response to the crisis. At the Foreign Affairs Council in October and again last week, Minister Coveney emphasised the need to ensure humanitarian access, to halt the fighting, and to incentivise dialogue —including through possible use of restrictive measures if required.

As the government blockade continues, famine-like conditions are being reported in Tigray and over 6.5 million people in northern Ethiopia are in need of humanitarian assistance. To date, Ireland has provided over €4.4 million in humanitarian aid to Tigray and Amhara and for refugees in neighbouring Sudan. We will continue to prioritise humanitarian need while this crisis persists.