On 15 June 2021, UN Security Council members held an in-person informal interactive dialogue (IID) on the humanitarian situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock and WFP Executive Director David Beasley were invited to brief the members. Representatives of the Ethiopian Government were also invited to participate. Eritrea was not invited, and rightfully so, as this was purely a matter of internal affairs in Ethiopia.
However, the Statements and media accounts of the meeting illustrate that the occasion was used or conceived as another opportunity to rehash unsubstantiated allegations against Eritrea. For the record, the Eritrean Mission to the United Nations wishes to emphasize the following salient points:
- Eritrea objects to the unfortunate and opaque methodology used in this instance where Eritrea was discussed although this was not clearly placed and announced on the agenda, and while Eritrea was not given the opportunity to put forth its perspectives and views on the matters raised;
- Eritrea has never hindered humanitarian access in the Tigray region. Eritrea has never used “food as a weapon of war’, not even in the dark days of the struggle or during the 1998-2000 war with Ethiopia. This is a well-known fact. The unfounded accusations peddled by certain forces against Eritrea these days are indeed driven to advance other political ends. As Ambassador Sophia Tesfamariam, Eritrea’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations stated in her 16 April 2021 letter to the Security Council:
“…We are indeed appalled by attempts to blame those who were forced to resort to legitimate measures of self-defence that other countries would have done under similar circumstances. The allegations of rape and other crimes lodged against Eritrean soldiers is not just outrageous, but also a vicious attack on the culture and history of our people….”
- Eritrea rejects the remarks made by the outgoing Humanitarian Chief who has repeated unsubstantiated allegations he has been making since the crisis began. As it may be recalled, Eritrea had submitted a complaint to the UNSG in protest of the biased conduct of the OCHA Chief which compromised his mandate and status as an international Civil Servant. The Ambassador stated in her 28 April 2021 letter to the Secretary-General that:
“…Mr. Mark Lowcock, who heads the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, continues to be deeply embroiled in a subtle political advocacy campaign in support of the defunct TPLF group which is the sole culpable party in unleashing the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. In this respect and despite claiming to be a humanitarian agency, OCHA has carried out an unprecedented political campaign against Eritrea by advancing distorted information in the international arena…”
- The circumstances surrounding the informal meeting yesterday also raise profound questions of the motive and intent of certain powers. Eritrea understands that the meeting was brought forward in order to give a platform to the outgoing OCHA Chief who has an axe to grind against Eritrea for reasons known to him alone.
In conclusion, Eritrea rejects the relentless and gratuitous campaign of apportioning blame on it in order to downplay the high crimes of the defunct TPLF group. And in these crucial times, stoking further conflict and destabilization through unwarranted interferences and acts of intimidation in violation of international law and the sovereignty of the countries in the region is unacceptable, under any guise.
16 June 2021