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.
An air strike killed at least 43 people in the town of Togoga in Ethiopia's Tigray region on Tuesday, a medical official told Reuters, after residents said new fighting had flared in recent days north of the regional capital Mekelle. https://t.co/Tz7Gj9ypkE pic.twitter.com/Yxz4sUJIaU
— Reuters Africa (@ReutersAfrica) June 23, 2021
“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.
1/ On 33rd anniversary of #Ethiopia’s bombing of a busy market in #Hawzen, new reports emerge of a strike on a market in #Tigray which killed scores & wounded dozens, incl a 2 yr old child. Soldiers also reportedly blocked ambulances carrying the injured: https://t.co/L33OMop3hE pic.twitter.com/deIqLJ3SSh
— Ida Sawyer (@ida_sawyer) June 23, 2021
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.
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.
#Tigray: The EU strongly condemns the latest deliberate targeting of civilians. This is not justifiable in any terms‼️
It is time for the international community to wake up and take action.
— Janez Lenarčič (@JanezLenarcic) June 23, 2021
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”.