Ethiopia: Humanitarian and Political Situation — [Mr Peter Bone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 19th January 2022.

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Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Conservative, Tewkesbury 2:30 pm, 19th January 2022

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right; I was going to suggest that in a minute.

I stress that I was motivated to hold the debate because I want to see people’s lives saved. I want to see Ethiopians live in peace and prosper, and I want to see Ethiopia survive as a country. This conflict cannot go on. In other words, I have held the debate not because I want to criticise Ethiopia, but because I want to help.

I therefore call on the UK Government to continue their aid programme and the dialogue that I know they are having with the Ethiopian Government. I call on the international community to respond to the World Food Programme’s appeal for further financing. I call on the United Nations to do more to bring about a peaceful and speedy solution to the conflict and on our own Government to use our position on the Security Council to press for more action. I call on Eritrean troops to leave Ethiopia immediately.

I call on both sides in the conflict to accept what we are saying: that there will be no winners. There will only be losers, in the most awful way—through hunger and possibly famine, deteriorating health and further poverty. Those are not outcomes that anyone would want to see or be prepared to accept.

There should be an immediate ceasefire on both sides, accompanied by peace talks that address not only the conflict but the future political situation in the country. I also make another request, very specifically and because this situation is becoming really terrible. I do not make it in any way to undermine the work that the Minister and his colleagues are doing; I know they are doing a lot. Nevertheless, I call on our Prime Minister to phone Prime Minister Abiy to discuss how we can reach the peaceful situation that we need to avoid catastrophe.

We do not want to see another Rwanda and we do not want to see a repetition of the Balkans conflict. We do not want to see those tragedies being repeated. So let us act now.