EU chief diplomat Borrel calls Tigray situation ‘appalling’

File photo. European High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell on 18 May 2021. [Pool/EPA/EFE]

The EU’s chief diplomat decried Wednesday (23 June) the situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray region as “appalling” and pleaded with the world to “wake up and take action”.

Josep Borrell issued the statement following a strike that killed or wounded dozens of people at a market in the town of Togoga as reports emerged of rebel advances in some parts of the region.

“What is happening in Tigray is appalling. It is time for the international community to wake up and take action,” the statement said.

“We re-iterate the urgent call for an immediate ceasefire in Tigray,” Borrell added.

An ambulance driver in the region said he was prevented from driving to Togoga, and Borrell said that if that was confirmed, it would constitute “a grave violation of the Geneva Convention and of International Humanitarian Law”.

EU leaders have put the situation in Tigray on the agenda of their summit meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

More than 350,000 people in Ethiopia's Tigray in famine: UN analysis

More than 350,000 people in Ethiopia’s Tigray are suffering famine conditions, with millions more at risk, according to an analysis by United Nations agencies and aid groups that blamed conflict for the worst catastrophic food crisis in a decade.

Borrell called the strike “yet another attack adding up to the horrific series” of humanitarian law and human rights violations, atrocities and ethnic violence in Tigray.

In November, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into the region, promising a swift campaign to oust its dissident ruling party.

The alliance against Tigray’s renegade leadership followed peace overtures towards Eritrea by Abiy that ended a long cold war between the neighbours and earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.

In recent days, as votes were cast and counted in a general election across much of Ethiopia, there were reports of rebel advances in Tigray, where no vote was held.

But Borrell said that deliberately targeting civilians was an “atrocity” that “cannot be justified by using the preservation of the territorial integrity of Ethiopia as an argument”.

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