This is from David Lammy, MP, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary
I am deeply concerned by the ongoing conflict in northern Ethiopia. The conflict has caused immense harm and suffering to more than nine million people since it began in Tigray in November 2020. Millions of civilians have been forced to flee their homes and more people are facing famine-like conditions in the region today than the rest of the world combined.
Reports of human rights violations and abuses are incredibly shocking: indiscriminate large-scale massacres, despicable sexual violence and rape targeting women and girls, arbitrary arrests, false disappearances, and the denial of food, shelter, healthcare and education. I believe there is clear evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
All sides must exercise restraint. There must an end to violence and there must be full humanitarian access. This cannot become a forgotten conflict. The Opposition has therefore repeatedly pressed the UK Government on the situation in Ethiopia – including raising it with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary – as well as raising concerns directly with the Ethiopian Government.
I believe the priority must be an end to violence and a peaceful settlement, involving as appropriate the African Union and the UN, the protection of civilians, not least refugees and internally displaced people. I am therefore encouraging the UK Government to work with urgency towards a ceasefire between all the parties to the conflict, so that the humanitarian response can operate fully.
I also believe the UN and other independent bodies must carry out an internationally recognised investigation into atrocities committed in this conflict – especially those carried out against civilians – so that the people responsible face justice. We must also use our human rights sanctions regime to target individuals who are already known to be committing atrocities.
The war and famine in Ethiopia, and the wider region in the 1980s; the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea in the 2000s; and recent atrocities across the region are seared into the memories of the British people and the world. As people across the region face another tragedy, this situation is also another sad demonstration of why I believe it is utterly wrong for the Government to cut our 0.7% commitment to humanitarian assistance at this time.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this issue.
Rt Hon David Lammy MP
Member of Parliament for Tottenham