UN calls for a halt in Ethiopia fighting, urges negotiations

People are seen in front of clouds of black smoke from fires in the aftermath at the scene of an airstrike in Mekele, the capital of the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia on Oct 20, 2021. (PHOTO / AP)

The United Nations Security Council called for an end of hostilities in Ethiopia, expressing “deep concern” about the intensification of military clashes.

The 15-member body — which delayed a debate on the situation in Ethiopia from Friday to Monday — also called for negotiations toward a “lasting cease-fire” and for parties to refrain from using inflammatory hate speech and incitement to violence and divisiveness.

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Fighting between the federal army and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front has escalated since the start of October, with the rebels advancing steadily south

Mexico’s United Nations ambassador, Juan Ramon de la Fuente, read a statement from the council calling “for the respect of international humanitarian law, for safe and unhindered humanitarian access, the re-establishment of public services, and further urged the scaling up of humanitarian assistance” in Ethiopia.

Fighting between the federal army and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front has escalated since the start of October, with the rebels advancing steadily south. Ethiopia recently declared a state of emergency as rebel fighters advanced toward the capital city.

The US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, arrived in Ethiopia on Thursday to attempt to de-escalate the civil conflict after Tigray fighters captured several key towns on a main route into Addis Ababa.

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Geraldine Byrne Nason, Ireland’s ambassador, said the statement was significant because the Security Council broke “six months of silence and speaks again with one united voice on the deeply concerning situation in Ethiopia.”