UK Government says ” We are clear that intentional use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is a war crime” and calls “for independent, international, investigations into allegations of human right abuses and violations, and unfettered access to Tigray.” Says it called in March for the withdrawal of Eritrean troops. What has happened more than 4 months later?
James Duddridge MP
Minister for Africa
King Charles Street
23 July 2021
Dear Lord Alton,
Thank you for your correspondence of 13 April about the War in Tigray, Ethiopia.
As you are aware, we remain concerned deeply by the impact of the continued fighting
in the Tigray region, which it is clear is causing considerable suffering to the civilian
population with over 350,000 people now living in famine-like conditions.
We have consistently urged all parties to end the conflict, prioritise the protection of
civilians and allow unfettered humanitarian access.
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.
The Foreign Secretary raised the need for unfettered humanitarian access with Prime
Minister Abiy during his visit to Ethiopia, to enable the delivery of much needed
humanitarian assistance. The UK Special Envoy for Famine Prevention and
Humanitarian Affairs, Nick Dyer, visited from 19-25 May. He called for an immediate
humanitarian ceasefire, a call joined by 20 other partners including all G7 nations. We
are clear that intentional use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is a war
The UK has provided £47.7 million of support to people affected by the conflict in Tigray.
This is delivering critical food aid, safe drinking water, sanitation and nutritional supplies
and medical care.
We are deeply concerned about ongoing human rights abuses and violations. All parties
to the conflict must respect human rights and avoid civilian loss of life at all costs. We
continue to call for independent, international, investigations into allegations of human
right abuses and violations, and unfettered access to Tigray. The British Ambassador to
Ethiopia and I have raised the need for perpetrators of violence and human rights
abuses to be held to account with the Government of Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Office of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) are conducting a joint investigation into
the human rights abuses committed by all parties in the context of the Tigray conflict.
The UK will support the OHCHR to ensure that their investigations are independent,
transparent and impartial and that those responsible for these human rights abuses are
held to account.
We are working to promote justice for survivors of sexual violence, to provide support to
survivors and children born of conflict related sexual violence and to prevent sexual
violence from occurring. In June we deployed expertise from the UK Preventing Sexual
Violence in Conflict Initiative Team of Experts.
We call for the immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces in the Tigray region. Their
presence is fuelling the conflict and exacerbating ethnic violence. Bilaterally, we have
regularly raised our concerns with Ethiopian Ministers, making clear the overriding need
to protect civilians and adhere to International Humanitarian Law and to International
Human Rights Law. The British Ambassador continues to make clear our concern about
atrocities, most recently with the Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister in March. I met
Eritrea’s Ambassador on 16 March and pressed him on the accusations of atrocities
levelled against Eritrean forces in Tigray and called for their immediate withdrawal.
We welcome the 26 March announcement from Prime Minister Abiy that Eritrean forces
will withdraw from Tigray but have not yet seen progress – this now needs to be
delivered and verified.
The UK has been at the forefront of the international effort to de-escalate the situation in
Tigray. We welcome the unilateral ceasefire announced by the Government of Ethiopia.
All fighting needs to cease.
There can be no military solution – this conflict can only be resolved through a political settlement.
James Duddridge MP
Minister for Africa