UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council called for an end to the intensifying and expanding conflict in Ethiopia on Friday, and for unhindered access for humanitarian aid to tackle the world’s worst hunger crisis in a decade in the war-torn Tigray region.
The U.N.’s most powerful body called on all parties to refrain “from inflammatory hate speech and incitement to violence and divisiveness.”
Council members called on the parties “to put an end to hostilities and to negotiate a lasting cease-fire, and for the creation of conditions for the start of an inclusive Ethiopian national dialogue to resolve the crisis and create the foundation for peace and stability throughout the country.“
The press statement was approved by the 15 council members the day after the first anniversary of the war in the northern Tigray region that has killed thousands of people and displaced millions. It was only the council’s second statement on the conflict, and the first to call for an immediate cessation of hostilities.
In recent weeks, the conflict has expanded, with Tigray forces seizing key cities on a major highway leading to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, and linking up with another armed group, the Oromo Liberation Army, with which it struck an alliance in August.
Months of political tensions between Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government exploded into war last November. Following some of the fiercest fighting of the conflict, Ethiopia soldiers fled the Tigray capital, Mekele, in June. Facing the current Tigray offensive, president Abiy declared a national state of emergency with sweeping detention powers on Tuesday.
The Tigray forces say they are pressuring Ethiopia’s government to lift a deadly months-long blockade on their region of around 6 million people, where basic services have been cut off and humanitarian food and medical aid are denied.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last month that at least 5.2 million people in the region need humanitarian assistance including at least 400,000 “living in famine-like conditions.” Child malnutrition levels are now at the same level as they were at the start of the 2011 famine in Somalia, he warned.