Saturday

27th Nov 2021

Letter

Ethiopia right of reply

  • Hirut Zemene is the ambassador of Ethiopia to Belgium, Luxembourg, and the EU institutions (Photo: Ethiopia Embassy/Facebook)

Letter to the editor of EUobserver,

We have come across an article issued by your media outlet under the title Ethiopia war creating new 'refugee crisis', EU envoy warns dated 24 February 2021, which was based on a briefing given by the Finnish foreign minister, Mr Pekka Haavisto, on the current situation in Tigray region of Ethiopia after his visit to Ethiopia on behalf of the HRVP of the European Commission.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

It is regrettable that the statement and facts given by Mr Pekka Haavisto about the situation in Ethiopia do not reflect the reality on the ground and contain unsubstantiated claims.

Therefore, the embassy of Ethiopia would like to set the record straight to the esteemed readership by stating the following facts about the situation in Ethiopia, particularly in Tigray.

The Finnish foreign minister, during his visit to Ethiopia in mid-February, was accorded the opportunity to be briefed on the situation in Tigray by relevant higher government officials of Ethiopia, including with the prime minister.

The government of Ethiopia was also more than willing to facilitate travel to the region for the foreign minister to have a first-hand account of the situation in Tigray region.

However, minister Haavisto showed no interest to travel to the region, but instead resorted to visit the refugee camp in neighbouring Sudan and extrapolate grossly inadequate information to provide unfounded claims that put unnecessary pressure on the government of Ethiopia.

The assertion made by the minister stating that "you have come to a situation which is militarily and human rights-wise, humanitarian-wise very out of control," does not reflect, by any means whatsoever, the tangible progress being registered thus far.

As has been verified by many including humanitarian aid providers on the ground, the fact is that so far 3.1 million people have benefitted from humanitarian aid distributed in 34 woredas/districts out of 36 in the region.

The minister's inaccurate narrative also does not go along with the testimonies given by officials from different international humanitarian organisations operating in the region.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, who also travelled to Ethiopia this month to assess the situation in Tigray, has said that "we have also established a system of coordination between civilian organisations like ours [and] the military (the Ethiopian military in the Tigray region) … all these foundations now will allow for this humanitarian operation to speed up and reach the people in need, who are in the millions."

Similarly, recent reports from UN agencies such as WFP and UNOCHA, indicated that there is an improved access for humanitarian supplies and personnel and the process of assessing, distributing, and delivering food items has continued.

The Finnish foreign minister's assertion that "the government themselves do not have a clear picture, particularly [in] areas controlled by Eritreans …" is what one would not expect from a person in high office and representing the European Union, as there was no such confusion and gap of information with regards to such critical matter of the control of the government of its own territory.

Such a statement is by far an erroneous claim and at best a condescending view towards Ethiopia.

Ethiopia with a long history of statehood and as a sovereign country is capable of handling its affairs.

It would have been easier for the distinguished minister to take note of the facts on the ground that the Tigray operation is over on 28 November, whilst like in any conflict some remnants of TPLF leadership and militias out of the loop are out there and are being dealt with.

It seems that he did not get his facts right. If there is any concern from any corner what Ethiopia appreciates is not a patronising attitude, but a constructive engagement.

Author bio

Hirut Zemene is the ambassador of Ethiopia to Belgium, Luxembourg, and the EU institutions.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

This 'Black Friday' is a turning point in corporate accountability

Much supply-chain abuse remains hidden from plain sight – not only to consumers but to the companies themselves, who have built increasingly longer, more complicated, and more opaque supply chains, which have become harder to monitor, control and account for.

The South China Sea should be of concern to Europe

If China is allowed unimpeded to break the law of the sea in the South China Sea, think about the repercussions elsewhere. It could ricochet into Europe's High North. In the Arctic, Nordic nations have overlapping claims with Russia.

News in Brief

  1. Covid variant: EU to block travel from southern Africa
  2. France and UK seek EU help on Channel migrants
  3. New Swedish PM who resigned after 7 hours gets second chance
  4. Belgium to decide on Friday on Covid measures
  5. UK rings alarm on new Covid strain in South Africa
  6. Turkish police use tear gas at women's rights march
  7. Poland calls for more Nato troops
  8. Ex-Navalny aide leaves Russia

Have the Polish people finally had enough?

Sitting justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro down on the same bench as Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga or Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir might seem like a longshot, if not overkill - but shows just how desperate the Polish people have become.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Belgium goes into three-week 'lockdown light'
  2. MEPs list crimes of 'Kremlin proxy' mercenaries
  3. EU to open up 'black box' of political ads
  4. Can the ECB solve climate change and inflation on its own?
  5. EU set to limit vaccine certificate to nine months
  6. Surprise coalition in Romania without former Renew's Ciolos
  7. This 'Black Friday' is a turning point in corporate accountability
  8. West struggling to show strength on Ukraine

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us