Ethiopian has announced that peace talks on the two-year war in Tigray are to start in South Africa next week. The news comes a day after the WHO warned that urgent “action” was needed to prevent “genocide” in the region.
International calls for a halt to escalating violence in northern Ethiopia have been mounting since a failed bid by the African Union earlier this month to bring the warring sides to the negotiating table.
“AUC (African Union Commission) has informed us that the Peace Talks is set for 24 Oct, 2022 to be held in South Africa. We have reconfirmed our commitment to participate,” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s national security adviser Redwan Hussein posted on Twitter.
Earlier on, World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters from the WHO headquarters in Geneva that “action must be taken immediately to prevent “genocide” in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.”
“The world is not paying enough attention. There is a very narrow window now to prevent genocide in Tigray,” he said.
Tedros, who is from the northern region, has continued to point out the abuses committed there.
Food as a weapon of war
Caught in the crossfire since the conflict began in November 2020, civilians in Tigray have paid the price, deliberately targeted and blocked off from essential services, said Tedros.
Fighting between pro-government forces and rebels continues after a truce collapsed in August. The ongoing crisis has created a siege for the six million people of the region, he said.
“Banking, food, electricity and healthcare are being used as weapons of war,” he said.
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“Even people who have money are starving because they can’t access their bank for two years,” he said, adding that “children are dying every day from malnutrition.”
The UN says the war has taken an “utterly staggering” toll on civilians.
“The social fabric is being ripped apart and civilians are paying a horrific price,” says Tedros, calling for an immediate withdrawal of Eritrean armed forces from the region.
Tedros said that his family members are in the most affected areas and that this crisis has touched him personally.
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“My job is to draw the world’s attention to crises that threaten the health of people wherever they are. This is a health crisis for six million people,” he said.
“The world is not paying enough attention.”