In a letter from the Africa Minister, James Duddridge MP he says “We are deeply worried about the risks the conflict poses to civilian lives…. Access to Tigray remains restricted”

Jan 4, 2021 | News

James Duddridge MP
Minister for Africa
King Charles Street

Lord Alton of Liverpool
House of Lords

31 December 2020
Dear Lord Alton,

Thank you for your email of 3 December forwarding correspondence from ( your correspondent) about the current situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
We are concerned about the continuing violence in Tigray region and its impact on neighbouring countries, including Eritrea. We are deeply worried about the risks the conflict poses to civilian lives. We are pressing all parties involved to secure immediate humanitarian access and ensure the restoration of basic services.

We are also concerned about the risk these events pose to Ethiopia’s overall stability, its democratic transition and the implementation of a democratising political reform programme – of which the UK has been supportive. The risk that the conflict becomes regionalised, drawing neighbouring countries into the fighting and forcing movements of refugees across borders, is also of grave concern.

The Foreign Secretary spoke with Prime Minister Abiy on 10 November and called for the immediate de-escalation of violence, for the protection of civilians and for unfettered humanitarian access. He reiterated these messages when he met Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke on 25 November. I also stressed these points when I spoke with the Ethiopian Ambassador in London on 18 November, and have called publicly for unfettered humanitarian access, in my tweet of 9 December.

Most recently I had a call with Ethiopian Finance Minister Ahmed Shide. Our Ambassador in Addis Ababa continues to engage across the Ethiopian leadership in support of these objectives.

The UK continues to liaise closely with a wide range of regional and international
partners in support of these objectives. The Foreign Secretary spoke on 16 November with Foreign Minister Pandor of South Africa, communicating our support of President Ramaphosa’s efforts towards a political solution. He also discussed approaches with his French and German counterparts in Berlin on 23 November, with President Kenyatta of Kenya on 24 November, and with Prime Minister Hamdok of Sudan on 12 November.

I also reiterated our concerns about the need for an urgent peaceful settlement in Tigray when I spoke with Foreign Minister Kutesa of Uganda on 26 November, and raised the situation in Ethiopia, and the role Ethiopia plays in regional stability, with the Governments of Somalia and Kenya during my visit to those two countries on 9 and 10 December. The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly MP, has done similarly with counterparts in the Gulf. The situation also remains under consideration by the United Nations Security Council.

The UK is working closely with humanitarian organisations to make sure aid reaches civilians affected by the fighting. UK-funded aid agencies in Tigray are working hard to deliver support in challenging circumstances, including shelter, water and healthcare.

We are tracking the situation and continue to raise the importance of respect for human rights with the Government of Ethiopia and regional leaders on all sides. It is our hope that a resolution is forthcoming, and the UK is engaging with Ethiopian and international partners at the highest level to facilitate this.

Access to Tigray remains restricted. Telecommunications are gradually being restored and I hope that this allows news ( concerning the issues raised by your correspondent) to be obtained.

James Duddridge MP
Minister for Africa

Lord David Alton

For 18 years David Alton was a Member of the House of Commons and today he is an Independent Crossbench Life Peer in the UK House of Lords.

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