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Tigray and the Ethiopian Civil War

March 12, 2022 3:14 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

In the midst of a humanitarian crisis in Tigray, we urgently need to provide as much support as we possibly can. But thanks to the Government's aid cut, we are fighting with one arm tied behind our back.

The ongoing civil war in Ethiopia, primarily between Ethiopian government forces and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands; the internal displacement of at least 4 million; and at least 9 million in need of desperate help.

The UK used to be a world leader on giving humanitarian assistance and aid to countries who needed it

In the last year, tens of thousands of civilians have died as result of airstrikes, massacres and man-made famine. We are also troubled by reports of ethnic targeting and the establishment of concentration camps.

The publication of the Joint Investigation by the UN Human Rights Office and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, which found that "there are reasonable grounds to believe that all parties to the conflict in Tigray have, to varying degrees, committed violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity."

The Liberal Democrats also share serious concern with the potential danger of ethnic violence spreading to and including areas of Sudan and Eritrea.

The UK used to be a world leader on giving humanitarian assistance and aid to countries who needed it, like Ethiopia, Sudan and Yemen. The Government has now turned their back on the world's poorest, by cutting international development spending from 0.7% of Gross National Income to 0.5%.

Tens of thousands of civilians have died as result of airstrikes, massacres and man-made famine.

It's time for the Conservative Government to abandon the cruel and misguided decision to cut the international development budget.

The UK's influence in the Horn of Africa, and therefore our ability as an actor making the case for a diplomatic solution, has been hampered by the Government's decision to abandon the international development spending target.

In new policy passed by members today, Liberal Democrats are calling for:

  • Restoration of the 0.7% of GNI target for international development spending - including support for humanitarian relief, via independent agencies, and support for Ethiopian and Tigrayan refugees.
  • Prioritision of the eradication of sexual violence in conflict.
  • Working with permanent members of the UN Security Council, and other international partners such as the African Union to:
    • push for negotiations to reach a sustainable peace
    • secure humanitarian access
    • Investigate human rights abuses and war crimes
  • Using Magnitsky sanctions against those who are perpetrating violence or preventing humanitarian aid from getting to those who need it.
  • Work closely with neighbouring countries in an effort to prevent spill over of ethnic violence to the wider region.

Read the full motion

The Government urgently needs to step up their diplomatic response to this disastrous conflict by increasing aid spending for humanitarian relief, engaging with international and regional partners such as the African Union, and working with all parties to pursue a ceasefire.

We have a moral responsibility to stand up for the fundamental liberal principles of equality, human rights, peace, democracy and the rule of international law.