Ethiopia questions silence of international community

The Government of Ethiopia questions the silence of the international community on the ongoing humanitarian crisis exacerbating by the terrorist group – Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF).

After the Ethiopian Government announced humanitarian ceasefire responding to the outcry of the international community withdrawing its troops from Tigray region last month, TPLF has blocked aid to Tigray region, recruited child soldiers expanding its attack in the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions, according to Billene Seyoum, Press Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

At a press briefing held in Addis Ababa this afternoon, she indicated that even though the Ethiopian Government has been informing the international community about the encroachment of TPLF, the international community, which was outcrying about the suffering of the people in Tigray, is not condemning the acts of the terrorist group.

She also stated after the Government left Tigray region TPLF has been engaged in killing civilians from Tigray ethnic group claiming that they have supported the federal government. She also mentioned that Eritrean refugees in Tigray have also been suffering from TPLF attacks and forced relocations to the two closed refugee camps.

In what she called double standard, The international has been mute since the unilateral ceasefire by the Ethiopian Government. “…Silence of the international community should be questioned…Clear double standard is at play by the international community,” she said, urging the international community to condemn the heinous acts of the terrorist group.

She stated that instead of allowing the farmers in Tigray engage in farming without missing the rainy season, TPLF is now using all the civilians in the region as human shield to expand its attack in the neighboring Afar and Amhara regions.

Commenting if the Government of Ethiopia will stick to its ceasefire while TPLF has continued war advancing in the neighboring regions, Billene indicated that still the Government is committed to the humanitarian ceasefire to allow farmers in Tigray region engage in farming activity before the rainy season passes.

“This ceasefire was enacted as has been shared before to enable farming activities…Otherwise any further disruption to farming activities of those within the region will have devastating consequences. Particularly for food security within the next Ethiopian calendar,” she said.

She indicated that since the government of Ethiopia was forced to be engaged in rule of law operations in Tigray region after the Front has attacked the northern command post of the national defense force of Ethiopia last November, the federal government has provided humanitarian assistance for about five million people in Tigray in three rounds in collaboration with partners.

Before Ethiopian troops left Tigray Region at the end of last month, the Government of Ethiopia has stocked more than 400,000 quintals of wheat and 2.5 million liters of edible oil to be distributed for the people in need within Tigray region, according to Billene, who also indicated that 14 million liters of fuel is reserved in the region.

Key Highlights of her message related to northern part of Ethiopia:

– Moving on to current issues as it relates to the situation in the Northern part of the country, it’s to be recalled that the Government has been engaged in various rounds of humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation initiatives in the region.

Activities that transpired prior to the unilateral humanitarian ceasefire

– First round distribution of assistance to 4.5 million people was made
– Second round distribution to 4.5 million
– Third round distribution to 4.9 million
– As of June 29th, 2021, the Federal Government made an official unilateral humanitarian ceasefire enacted to also support farmers take advantage of the rainy season and focus on farming activities as interruption to this year’s farming would have devastating consequences for the region.

– In that regard prior to the humanitarian ceasefire, 580,136 quintals of fertilizer had been purchased with 536,979 quintals stored in Mekelle and distributed to farmers through 10 cooperatives.
– On Defence Forces exit from Mekelle, more than 400,000 quintals of wheat and 2.5 million litres of edible oil have been stocked in warehouses for distribution to those in need. Plus 14 million litres of fuel in depots.

What did TPLF do after the ceasefire?

– As I shared the unilateral humanitarian ceasefire enacted by the Government was solely intended to enable humanitarian assistance and for farmers to utilize the rainy season; however, the TPLF have outright rejected the ceasefire and rather pushed the people of the region at further risk.
– Following the Government’s ceasefire, TPLF have continued with their belligerence and fatalistic approach of encroachment into other regions – namely the Amhara and Afar regions;

– Instead of taking the opportunity to support Tigrayan farmers and those in need of humanitarian assistance, they have resorted to mobilizing civilians as human shields and violently harassing communities in the Amhara and Tigray regions. The lives of farmers in the Amhara region and pastoralists in the Afar region are being destabilized by the terrorist enterprise that has rather resorted to escalating the situation rather than de-escalating. Here international community has been shockingly mute.

– We have reports of women’s farming monasteries in the Amhara region being targeted and looted as the women fled and hid in the forests till the TPLF recruits left.
– Evidence has also surfaced of utilizing children as combatants by the TPLF employing illegal substances. In this regard the Federal Government asserts to the very quiet international community on this matter that Children are Not Soldiers and civilians need not be utilized as human shields for the TPLF’s destructive exploits!

– Reports indicate that the food assistance left in storage for the needy in the Tigray region is being exploited by the TPLF for recruitment. Humanitarian assistance in transit to the region has also been blocked from reaching those in need by the group.

– Furthermore, we have also been receiving reports of killing of Tigrayans considered pro-government by TPLF confirming the group’s exploitation and violence against the very people it says it stands for;
– The safety of Eritrean refugees in the Tigray region is also threatened with the presence of TPLF forces in refugee hosting areas. Reports of up to 6 killings of refugees have come in so far.

– Properties of the Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs and other partners’ properties, including World Food Program warehouses, have been looted and confiscated. Refugees are being forced to contribute in-kind and cash to the rebels.

Adding to all these misfortunes, all efforts by the refugees to move out of the conflict zone has been prevented by the TPLF, which is tantamount to a hostage situation. On the contrary, there are of reports of forceful transportation of refugees in masses to unknown locations and attempts to relocate some of them to Hitsats and Shimelba, the refugee camps that had been closed following attacks by the same group back in November.

– While all these overt egregious acts are being committed by the TPLF, the open and vocal belligerence against the stability and security of the State has escalated with overt and blatant statements and threats to attack other regions and the Capital.

Humanitarian Assistance following the unilateral ceasefire

– Despite the challenges, the Government is continuing to work with partners to assuage the challenges of humanitarian assistance delivery.
– Humanitarian aid supply and distribution system guidelines and transport system guidelines have been developed to facilitate the humanitarian coordination with partners.

Public response

– The Ethiopian public response to these aggressions against the State and to the Nations and Nationalities of Ethiopia by the TPLF terror group has been met with nationwide condemnation across the country. Ethiopians in the Diaspora have also added their voice to condemn the TPLF’s aggression and violence.

– All across the country are mobilizing to thwart the threat declared by the TPLF and many are enlisting with the defence forces, echoing what has become a national tagline of ‘I will march to save Ethiopia’.

– Renouncing the TPLF as a terrorist organization the need to reconcile with fellow Tigrayans who have deep roots, blood and familial ties with other nations and nationalities, has been expressed by many across the country.

– Despite the TPLF’s attempts to wedge a rift between the people of Tigray and their fellow Ethiopians for their personal political gains, Ethiopians all over have been very vocal in differentiating between the culprits and innocent Tigrayans in whose name TPLF and their operatives continue to trade.

International Community + Media Response

– In developments following the Government’s decision to enact a humanitarian ceasefire and exit some cities, the international communities silence has been quite outstanding!
– A clear double standard is at play in the silence towards TPLF’s harassment and overt belligerence
– Many that were echoing the wellbeing of Tigrayans in the region are now mute when the TPLF is:

o blocking aid;
o killing Tigrayans it considers against it;
o recruiting child soldiers
o using civilians as human shields and bullet fodder
o encroaching into other regions

– Those that were continuously chanting Amhara forces out are nowhere to be heard now in condemning TPLF’s atrocities and encroachment into other regions. Why?
– Three key issues to draw attention to:

o TPLF attacks the State in November 2020 dragging the Federal government into a war;
o ii) Federal Government Enacts Humanitarian Ceasefire which TPLF rejects in June 2021;
o iii) TPLF escalates the conflict by encroaching into two other regions and openly declares violence.
– These three critical threats against the State and the People of Ethiopia and the international community is silent. Why?