On Friday we were shocked by Ethiopia’s expulsion of seven UN officials. And today, we are profoundly dismayed by Ethiopia’s failure to reverse this untenable decision.
The man-made humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia is getting worse by the day. And famine has, most probably, already taken hold.
In this context, the expulsion of essential UN officials: key humanitarian leaders - is deeply disturbing.
It is unacceptable that Ethiopia chooses to obstruct the important work of crucial UN organisations. The UN is delivering lifesaving aid to people in desperate need, impartially, and in all parts of Ethiopia.
The UN is not a party to the conflict in Ethiopia. On the contrary, Norway firmly believes in the impartiality and professionalism of the UN and its personnel.
We are steadfast in our support of the UN; and wish to reiterate our request that Ethiopia immediately reverses the expulsion of seven staff members.
To end the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Tigray; the federal Ethiopian authorities; the TPLF; and other armed actors must:
- ensure rapid, safe, and unimpeded access of humanitarian aid to the region.
- do their utmost to facilitate the work of humanitarian organisations and their personnel.
- and fully respect international humanitarian law by providing security for humanitarian workers.
We deplore the ongoing vilifying comments made regarding humanitarian actors. Such hateful rhetoric is dangerous, and is putting lives at risk.
This situation hits those already vulnerable the hardest; including those facing famine, those displaced, and more often than not - women and children. The denial of humanitarian access during conflict is one of ‘the six grave violations’ against children. There must be a response to this.
Norway also condemns in the strongest terms the reported killings of civilians, and the widespread and systematic use of sexual and gender-based violence.
All alleged atrocities and violations by all sides must be documented and investigated. Accountability for such acts is critical for prevention, deterrence, and justice for victims and survivors.
Norway strongly supports the appointment of former President Obasanjo as the AU High Representative on the Horn of Africa. And we ask the parties to actively engage with the High Representative. This Council - at a bare minimum - should be clear in support of his endeavours, and unified in its support for the United Nations and its humanitarian agencies and staff.
If we cannot do this, we have failed.
We must urgently – and with one voice – speak out in support of this, together with:
- an immediate ceasefire,
- a political dialogue,
- unimpeded humanitarian access to all those in need,
- and an immediate reversal of the expulsion of the seven UN officials.