Ethiopia: Armed Conflict

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office written question – answered at on 29 December 2020.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports (1) that the Eritrean military is fighting in Tigray, (2) that people have been abducted and returned to Ethiopia, and (3) of the seizure of Tigrayan land by (a) the government of Eritrea, and (b) the Amhara regional government; and what assessment hey have made of the impact of any such actions on the long-term stability of Ethiopia.

Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The British Ambassador in Eritrea raised questions of Eritrean involvement with the Eritrean Foreign Minister on 2 December, who stated that there are no Ethiopian refugees in Eritrea, denied that Eritrea is involved militarily in the conflict, and categorically denied that Eritrean forces had forcibly returned Eritrean refugees to Eritrea. We are, however, concerned to note mounting but unconfirmed evidence since then of Eritrean involvement.

We are extremely concerned that humanitarian agencies, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), do not have access to refugee camps in Tigray, meaning our understanding of the humanitarian and protection context in camps and refugee hosting areas is limited. It is the responsibility of the host state to ensure refugees are protected and are not subjected to forcible return. This was acknowledged by the Government of Ethiopia when we raised the matter.

The UK is concerned by reports of ethnically-motivated attacks within Tigray and elsewhere in Ethiopia, and about the risk these events pose to Ethiopia's overall political stability and democratic transition, of which the UK has been supportive. In the Minister for Africa's statement of 17 December he called for the independent investigation of alleged violations of human rights.

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