Ethiopian Envoy Speaks out at UNSC Meeting Over Tigray

ADDIS ABABA – Ambassador Taye Atske Selassie, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations, has explained the federal government’s stand on the security situation of Tigray to the UN Security Council on Thursday.

The 15-members of the Security Council convened their consultation on the situation in the Tigray region late Thursday under the ‘Peace and Security in Africa’ agenda item, which started with an open briefing followed by a closed session.

The meeting was held at the request of six Western countries including the United States and United Kingdom.

While making an opening remark, the U.N. Secretary General Antonio Gutierrez said “the unity of Ethiopia and the stability of the region are at stake”, calling for an immediate ceasefire and the launch of national political dialogue. The UN chief said the military front lines in Tigray have reached the regions of neighbouring Amhara and Afar.

Speaking at the end of the opening part of the session. Ambassador Taye has addressed the Security Council on a range of issues regarding what is transpired in the Northern part of Ethiopia recently.

Below are Excerpts from his speech

Ambassador Taye started his speech by appreciating the good faith engagement by the secretary general.

He said the same objective “will continue to drive the efforts of the government of Ethiopia as was the case in the past nine months following the treasonous and unforgettable attack against the northern command” of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) by forces of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a group now designated as terrorist entity in Ethiopia.

‘Context needed’

“The current state of affairs in Ethiopia did not transpire overnight,” he said. “They were in the making long before the TPLF unleashed attack on the northern command of the ENDF on November 4, 2021,” prompting the federal government to take a law enforcement operation in Tigray.

He said, “The genesis of the current conflict goes back at least three decades ago. Since 1991 TPLF maintained hegemonic control over the political security and economic life of the Ethiopian people.

During this time, he said the TPLF faced resistance at every turn in all corners of Ethiopia.

“We must recall that it was a sustained popular protest that dislodged the TPLF from the political power in 2018 ushering in a promising period of transition,” Taye said.

“When it lost power the TPLF retreated to Tigray taking our people in Tigray as hostage because as the saying goes, ‘for those accustomed to privilege equality feels like an operation.’

“Still despite numerous provocations, the Ethiopian government exercised maximum restraint until the group attacked and looted military barracks”.

‘Ignored Unilateral Ceasefire’

According to Taye, the federal government declared a unilateral humanitarian ceasefire in June and, subsequently, withdrawal of the national army from the Tigray.

Apart from providing a peaceful farming season in Tigray, the Ambassador said the decision was aimed at providing space for the TPLF leadership to “reconsider its ruinous course” and pave the way for the “uninhibited flow of humanitarian assistance for the people in need”.

However, he said, it was given “no regard by the TPLF if you called the ceasefire a joke and also by members of the international community that tolerated, enabled and condemned the group to follow its destructive past”.

“The repeated plea for ceasefire was ignored and we now have Ethiopian children in Tigray subjected to forced equipment to serve as cannon fodders. We also see aid distribution conditioned to parents giving away their children to war.

“Not only farmers in the Tigray region but also those in adjacent Afar and Amhara region are now unable to farm their land exposing them to the indignity of receiving aid to sustain their family”.

– 3 points on humanitarian response –

As to humanitarian assistance, Ambassador Taye said the government of Ethiopia is “fully cognizant of its obligation to its citizens”.

He said,

“Sensationalization and politicization of our situation doesn’t inform our response,” he told member countries, adding the government.m will continue to deliver its obligation using all means and allocating all available resources.

In this regard, Taye said, “the government of Ethiopia first is committed to hastening clearance of humanitarian convoys, in fact we are committed to reducing the number of checkpoints and to fast-track scanning process. We are working with partners to introduce modern scanning technology.

“Second, we’ll continue to consider requests for humanitarian flights. World Food Program and the National Disaster Risk Management Commission are administrating their humanitarian flight with no impediment.

“Third, we will continue to provide cash and manage it in a predictable and sustainable manner for all humanitarian agencies”.

Ambassador Taye also said the resumption of public service requires peace and rule of law in Tigray.

“These essential services cannot be reconnected while the group that to date killed 33 infrastructure operators and Engineers; looted, diverted it and confiscated convoys continues to persist on its destructive path of war,” he added.

‘Plea to the IC’

The Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the UN said his government is “startled by everyone that appears to have been calling for peace and pressure the government for suspension of its law enforcement operation to latter on tolerate and ratify through their reticence, the expansion of violence and mayhem by the TPLF”.

He said, “Our plea to all with a sincere wish to help us realize peace is to put pressure on this lawless group to stop its criminal advance, to abandon preparation for combat and abide by the laws of the country.

“The group must also irritably de-link itself from internal and external sponsors and affiliates.

“As to the international community we ask you to remove the actual or perceived support emanating from your side that this group feeds off. It has to only comply with the requirements set by the government and free the people of Tigray from its egotistical grip.

“Absent compliance with the laws of the country, the government of Ethiopia will apply…any means necessary to ensure law and order”.

“We are people of values”

“Regarding some of the unsubstantiated assertions we heard today we call upon members of the council to be cautious about facts and misinformation that has dominated the scene,” the Ambassador said.

He also told the UNSC that, “there is no discrimination based on any ground including the tenacity religious or any other background. We are not people with less moral”.

“We are people of values. We survived for centuries through social cohesion. We built unity while honoring differences. The Ethiopian reform is all about how to strengthen our unity and live in harmony”.

“Interference is not appreciated’

Ambassador Taye used the opportunity to express his country’s “gratitude for all of you who stood with us in times of our need”.

At the same time, he said the government respectfully asserted the sovereign integrity of Ethiopia.

In this regard, he underscored “the severe mentality that seeks to undermine the sovereign right and responsibility of states of their own security and well-being of their people has proven harmful in very many instances”.

“Evidently Ethiopia is not a country that allows delegating the shaping of its future,” he continued. “As the international community has witnessed undue foreign pressure and interference is not appreciated by a soul in my country.”

“And after the fact,” he said “regret and admission of failure in foreign policy will not help. Hence, we call on everyone concerned to work with us. We are ready to work with all well-intentioned partners”.

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