The Ethiopian federal government declared a nationwide state of emergency on Tuesday, as its fighting with Tigrayan forces reached the one-year mark and fighting escalated in northern Ethiopia.
“The Council of Ministers has declared a nationwide emergency on Tuesday, November 2, 2021,” said a statement posted by the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate SC on its Twitter account.
The House of People’s Representatives is expected to approve the state of emergency within 24 hours, the statement said.
Reuters quoted the government as saying on Tuesday that the Tigre People’s Liberation Front is gaining territory and is considering marching on the country’s capital, Addis Ababa. The residents of the capital were told to register their weapons and be ready to defend the city.
The federal government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been fighting TPLF forces in Tigre for the past year. Fighters were able to take control of the province after government forces withdrew in June, and fighting has since expanded into the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar, displacing thousands and worsening a severe hunger crisis.
Speaking on Tuesday at the US Institute for Peace, a Washington-based think tank, US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman said 900,000 people in Tigre are facing famine-like conditions, while 90% of the population needs aid.
He said the most serious obstacle to him getting food, medicine and other vital aid is the federal government, which imposed bureaucratic hurdles and last month expelled seven senior UN humanitarian and human rights officials.
“Unfortunately, this suggests a deliberate attempt by the authorities to deprive Ethiopians who are suffering from receiving life-saving aid,” Feltman said.
Using food as a weapon of war can escalate to the level of a war crime.
The special envoy said the government’s airstrikes and the TPLF’s alliances with other disaffected armed groups are “dangerous” and warned that the country was at risk of slipping into a major conflict.
“A multidecade civil war in Ethiopia would be disastrous for its future and its people,” he said. “We urge the Government of Ethiopia, the TPLF and other belligerents to give peace a chance; to choose a different path and engage in dialogue without preconditions.”
Feltman responded to some critics who say that the United States is biased towards the TPLF, saying that “it couldn’t be further from the truth” and that the Biden administration has consistently condemned the expansion of the war by Tigrayan forces. which includes the report. Capital.
“Let me be clear, we oppose any move by the TPLF in Addis or any attempt by the TPLF to encircle Addis,” Feltman said. “This is a message that we have also underlined in our engagement with the TPLF leaders.”
He also said that it is not true that Washington wants to replace Abiy with a TPLF-dominated regime.
But he warned that Washington “cannot continue trade as usual” with the federal government and noted Tuesday’s announcement from the administration that puts Ethiopia’s special trade advantages with the United States at risk over human rights violations.
On Wednesday, the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission are releasing a report on their joint investigation into alleged human rights violations by all parties in the Tigre conflict.
There have been widespread credible reports of brutal atrocities during the conflict, including rape, torture and executions. The report is expected to include a set of recommendations, which Feltman said require parties to demonstrate that they are implementing them immediately.
Some information in this report has been received from Reuters.