With your support, I will always stand up for oppressed people and peoples and continue to fight against terrorism. That is why the situation of the Oromo in Ethiopia makes me very concerned. There, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, turns out not to be a peacemaker at home. And this is not far from your bed.
Ethiopia is strategically very important for stability in East Africa, to control terrorist groups like Al-Shabaab in Somalia and to prevent refugee flows. Ethiopia is also a strong economic driver in Africa and an example of hope and progress taking place in the African continent. But now that rare bright spot is disappearing as the country is now on the brink of devastating civil war; with hundreds dead already, a humanitarian crisis is just around the corner. The UN has already warned against this after more than 27,000 people have fled to neighboring Sudan in recent days. How exactly does that conflict in Ethiopia work, and why is the prime minister’s role so seriously disappointing that I think he should return the Nobel Peace Prize if this is his idea of peace?
The Ethiopian government’s crackdown on the protest that arose this summer among the Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest population, after the murder of their iconic singer Hachalu Hundessa, killed more than 600 people and arrested thousands, including journalists and opposition leaders. There was no dialogue about the equal rights of the Oromo people. The human rights situation also deteriorated in the rest of the country.
Subsequently, the elections planned for August 2020, which were to mark an important step from authoritarianism to democracy, were postponed indefinitely. It is feared that the transition was brought to a dead end as a result.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military offensive against the rebellious Tigray region, which could lead to civil war and instability across the region. Humanitarian access to Tigray has been closed. The same goes for the telecom, internet and electricity connections. The UN warned of a famine as a result of this conflict. Peace with Eritrea is also at risk.
The African Union and the UN offered to mediate. The Tigray sub-area accepted this, but the Ethiopian government states that it is a purely domestic matter and rejects mediation.
There is a clear need to prevent escalation, to avoid further bloodshed and to establish a genuine dialogue about coexistence with respect for each other’s rights of the peoples living in Ethiopia.
But what is the European Commission doing to prevent impending famine from this armed conflict?
– What actions has the Commission taken to use EU development aid as a means of pressure on the Ethiopian government to accept a ceasefire and peace talks?
– How many EU citizens are trapped in the Tigray region and are there actions to be taken to evacuate them? If, for example, fellow countrymen are staying there, we must evacuate them on time and stand and bring them back home.
I immediately put these questions in writing to EU foreign chief Borrell and to the European Commission. I hope I will soon get more clarity about this. The EU must dare to strengthen its diplomatic and practical commitment in Africa and on the world stage. Because instability in any region in the world can quickly turn into instability at our place or at our external borders, leading to new migration crises. There are already many refugees coming to our country due to armed conflicts from neighboring Eritrea. Partly for this reason, stability and peace in these regions are also of immense importance to us.
You may now be wondering what the EU can do in concrete terms. Position themselves as one of the greatest leaders in the world. Don’t leave everything to the US and China. Ethiopia is the largest recipient of European development money in Africa. More and more pennies cannot be the solution. The European Union should use this as leverage to induce the Ethiopian government to accept a ceasefire, peace talks and internal dialogue and to grant humanitarian access to the war zone.
I am arguing for this in the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and also in European parliament to find a suitable solution for the Ethiopian peoples in order to bring lasting peace and stability.
Thank you for your support,
Europeans Parliament member (ECR, N-VA)
Vice chairman ECR