Statement by Ambassador Sven Jürgenson at UN Security Council briefing on Tigray

I thank Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo and acting Under-Secretary-General Rajasingham for their briefings.

I welcome the timely holding of the first open Council meeting on the situation in Tigray.

The declaration of ceasefire by the Ethiopian government is a welcome first step towards the resolution of the conflict in Tigray. It is essential that it will be followed by immediate cessation of hostilities, and that all parties adhere to the international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

Urgent, safe and unhindered humanitarian access is needed and essential services like electricity and telecommunications must be restored, to enable humanitarian workers to provide help.

The food insecurity in Tigray is deteriorating each day and some regions are already facing famine. Food aid must be allowed to be delivered to those in need without any delay. For a sustainable solution to the food insecurity, immediate cessation of hostilities is vital for allowing the farmers to plant crops.

We condemn violence against the humanitarian workers and their assets, as this is against the international humanitarian law. The brutal killings of three representatives of Médecins Sans Frontières must be investigated immediately and the perpetrators brought to justice.

There is also no justification to the illegal entering into the premises of humanitarian agencies and dismantling their communications equipment.

We are worried that the situation in Tigray continues to be volatile and the civilians are bearing the brunt of the conflict. It was reminded again last week when an airstrike near Mekelle killed around 80 civilians and injured around 200. Targeting of civilians and blocking medical aid is completely unacceptable. We call for an urgent and independent investigation into the incident.

The reports of continued violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including widespread sexual and gender based violence, are deeply worrying. The commitment of the Government of Ethiopia to engage with the UN mechanisms on investigating alleged violations and abuses is welcome. We urge all parties to ensure unfettered access for the investigators.

We are concerned about numerous violations committed by the Eritrean troops and call for their immediate withdrawal. The clearly destabilizing role of Eritrean troops, including by obstructing humanitarian aid, has been widely reported.

It is important that the end of fighting will not be temporary, but will be followed by a comprehensive, inclusive and credible political process, with the aim of national reconciliation.

Finally, it is clear that the ongoing conflict in Tigray constitutes a threat to international peace and security, which is why it is vital that the issue remains a priority in the Council’s agenda.