Eritrean forces have been accused of engaging in northern Ethiopia’s war
The US and the UN’s International Commission of human rights experts on Ethiopia issued statements condemning Eritrean forces’ re-entry into the northern Ethiopian war that resumed on August 24, 2022. It is a statement that has infuriated diplomats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), which accused the Commission of using human rights as a weapon for political pressure.
During a department press briefing on September 7, 2022, Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesperson of Biden’s administration, urged the withdrawal of Eritrean forces, while calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and the resumption of the AU-led peace talks. For that, the US special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, also arrived in Addis Ababa last weekend, scheduled to stay in the region between September 4 and 15.
On September 5 and 6, Hammer met with Ethiopia’s deputy PM and Foreign Minister, Demeke Mekonnen, and national security advisor, Redwan Hussein. The special envoy delivered the same message to federal officials as well as the TPLF chairman, Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), condemning the TPLF offensive outside of Tigray, the Ethiopian government’s airstrikes and ground offensive, and Eritrea’s re-entry into the conflict.
“In the coming days, as part of the ongoing diplomatic effort, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Molly Phee, Special Envoy Hammer, and other US diplomats will be consulting with the African Union as well as key actors in the region – the UN, the EU, and UK envoys,” Patel said.
“Our goal is to mobilize diplomatic efforts to put pressure on the government and the TPLF to stop their military offensives immediately and for Eritrea to withdraw to its borders. There is no military solution to this conflict. The only path forward is for the parties to pursue a negotiated settlement through peace talks,” Patel added.
The spokesperson stressed that the Ethiopian people have suffered tremendously from the conflict.
The last time Hammer traveled to Ethiopia a month ago, he took a trip to Mekelle along with UN, EU, and IGAD especial envoys and ambassadors of the UK, Canada, and Italy. After Addis Ababa criticized the Mekelle visit for entertaining TPLF interests, the proposed negotiation between the federal government and the TPLF came to a stalemate.
As the venues for negotiated peace shrank, the third round of war broke out on August 24, 2022, breaching a five-month ceasefire.
This time, the UNHRC’s International Commission of human rights experts on Ethiopia, which was formed to investigate human rights violations committed since the war initially broke out in November 2020, also implicated Eritrean forces in the Ethiopian war.
“Eritrean troops are also engaged in the hostilities, and the conflict risks spreading to other states,” the commission said in a statement on September 7, 2022.
The commission also called for the UN Security Council to take actions under the Charter needed to ensure the protection of civilians in the northern Ethiopia war and prevent escalation that could further destabilize the Horn of Africa.
The UNSC, which was scheduled to discuss Ethiopia’s case as a matter of urgency on September 5, 2022, has postponed it to this week. “Given the gravity of the situation, the commission urges the UNSC to keep the situation in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa high on its agenda,” requested the Commission.
The Ethiopian government, which previously admitted Eritrean forces participated in the previous wars after being provoked by the TPLF, did not admit Eritrean forces’ participation in the renewed war. While the federal government is accusing the TPLF of launching the third wave of war, TPLF officials are also claiming the federal government and Eritrean forces launched a massive offensive.