Sexual Violence in Conflict: Ethiopia

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – in the House of Commons on 20th July 2021.

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Photo of Anthony Mangnall Anthony Mangnall Conservative, Totnes

What steps he has taken to deploy personnel from the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict initiative UK team of experts to Ethiopia.

Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Our priority is to get access for humanitarian actors in Tigray. We have seen some improvements since the Foreign Secretary called for greater access, but it is still not good enough. We have, however, deployed an expert at PSVI to Ethiopia in June for a scoping mission, recommendations from which will outline further support that may be possible, including additional deployments.

Photo of Anthony Mangnall Anthony Mangnall Conservative, Totnes

I thank the Foreign Secretary and the Minister for deploying a member of the PSVI unit or team—whichever we are calling it. It is particularly welcome that we are stepping forward and providing that assistance, but in the light of the fact that the United Nations cannot consider any of the issues without a resolution, will the UK Government push for a resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council to consider all the ongoing human rights abuses in the Tigray region?

Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

We look at all options. Under the G7 presidency, we issued a joint statement of Foreign and Development Ministers on 2 April; there was also a statement on 2 May and a communiqué from leaders on 13 June. We will continue to work with UN colleagues as well.

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and International Development)

I welcome the Minister’s response. The allegations of rape and sexual violence have shocked the world. I also welcome the recent comments by our permanent representative to the United Nations about the shocking attacks on humanitarian workers, including those in recent days. Unfortunately, we have heard increasingly inflammatory language from Prime Minister Abiy, and in recent days fighting involving Tigrayan forces has allegedly spread to the Afar region. With famine, violence and so many needs increasing, will the Minister confirm whether our total support to Ethiopia will increase or be cut this year?

Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

We are committed to helping the community, and our support overall will of course increase, but I think the hon. Gentleman is talking not about support but about finance. Actually, what is critical is our focus on resolving the conflict, because only then can we get humanitarian partners in to deliver the aid. Aid convoys have come under attack and 600 vehicles are needed each week, so without a diplomatic effort to quell that conflict—for the Eritreans to remove themselves from Ethiopia and to quell the types of additional conflicts that the hon. Gentleman is talking about—any more money is not going to get through.