Sixteen western countries, including the US, UK, France and Germany demanded on Saturday that Ethiopia’s government and Tigrayan forces cease hostilities immediately and compensate victims of “war crimes”.
“All parties must enter into negotiations without preconditions on a durable ceasefire and commit to achieving a durable peace, underscored by justice and accountability, that will enable future efforts towards reconciliation,” Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the UK, and the US said in a joint statement.
The year-long war between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has claimed the lives of thousands and displaced more than two million people.
The violent confrontation is expected to escalate as the Tigrayans and eight allied anti-government factions threatened to march on Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia’s parliament declared a state of emergency earlier this week, and the military is preparing for a confrontation with Tigrayan forces and has asked retired military personnel to rejoin the army to fight.
The 16 countries demanded both parties of the civil war to comply with obligations under international humanitarian law and “provide redress to victims of the violations and abuses” identified in the UN’s latest report investigation human rights abuses in the country.
The report identified a multitude of human rights violations during the conflict including: attacks on civilians and civilian objects, unlawful or extra-judicial killings and executions, torture and other forms of ill-treatment, arbitrary detention, abductions and enforced disappearances and sexual and gender-based violence.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said those violations amount to “crimes against humanity and war crimes”.