European Parliament adopts urgency resolution on Ethiopia, calls for peace and dialogue

On Thursday 26 November, members of the European Parliament held a plenary debate on the current situation in Ethiopia and the conflict in the Horn of Africa region. The speakers called for de-escalation and a resumption of the dialogue for peace between the Ethiopian federal government and representatives of the Tigray region. The discussion followed a draft Joint Motion for a Resolution on 25 November 2020, supported by several parliamentarians from different political parties. The motion was adopted by the European Parliament. European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic announced plans to visit Sudan to speak to refugees.

The words that Prime Minister Abiy expressed on the occasion of receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, about a year ago, were taken up by several parliamentarians (for example Members of the European Parliament Z. Zovko and H. Heide) to underline the contrast between the commitment to cooperation and peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the current  in the Tigray region. Several other parliamentarians (C. Zorrinho, A. Kanko and E. Roughly) further underlined the differences between the political results achieved a year ago and the escalation of violence that has been taking place for three weeks now. All parliamentarians called for a peaceful dialogue between all parties involved and hoped that the three senior African Envoy representatives sent to Addis Ababa, together with the mediation work carried out by the African Union, could put an end to human rights violations.

Members of the European Parliament L. Berg and C. Zorrinho and European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic himself recall how the Ethiopian constitution provides for secession in order to respect the freedoms of the individual peoples that make up the State of Ethiopia and how this possibility is provided also to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.

MEPs A. Kanko, J.C. Oetjen stressed the need to restore access, power and connectivity  in the Tigray region so that humanitarian organisations can assist the internally displaced population, who are under pressure from water, food and sanitation shortages. They recalled that more than 40,000 refugees have crossed the border into Sudan in the last weeks and tens of thousands of internally displaced persons are facing serious difficulties. For the displaced persons and refugees in Tigray,  the humanitarian crisis risks being prolonged. MEP F. M. Castaldo underlined the need to immediately stop any violation of human rights, stressing how the massacre of 600 unarmed civilians in the city of Mai Kadra (November 9, 2020) can be considered as a war crime. There are conflicting accounts as to the perpetration of the massacre.

The dangers of ethnic profiling and inter-ethnic violence was also taken up by EPP MEP speaker S. Kelly and Renew Europe MEP speaker N. Stefanuta, as well as by the Commissioner J. Lenarcic in his closing speech.

MEP C. Goerens, on the other hand, suggests the need for an approach based not only on the appeals for peace and the mediation of the AU, but also on the possibility for the Development Commission to “[…] discuss the suspension mechanism that could be put in place in case of this crisis continue”.

Commissioner for Crisis Management J. Lenarcic concluded the plenary session by stating that he and the High Representative for External Action, Mr. Borrell, express great concern about the alleged war crimes committed by the Abiy Federal Government and by the representatives of the TPLF. He has indicated that it is imperative that human rights are respected, and where there have been abuses and violations, those have to be investigated, in order to find those who perpetrated the crimes. He added that he had contacted UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michel Bachelet, as well as several intergovernmental human rights organizations in order to stop violence as soon as possible. In addition, he will visit Sudan next week to show solidarity with the Sudanese government and with the aim to meet the refugees.  High Representative Borrell, in his meeting with the Ethiopian authorities, underlined how the principle of international law must be respected even in a context of hostility. “[p]lans of targeting civilians must be avoided at any price by all parties. During my meeting with the Ethiopian Deputy Minister on Wednesday 25 November, I recalled the obligation of all parties involved in the conflict without distinction to protect civilians, guaranteeing their free movement”.

On 26 Thursday 2020 the resolution was adopted with 643 votes in favour out of 694 total votes.