NEW YORK, 5 March 2021 – Russia and China used their veto power Thursday to block a joint statement on the armed violence in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region.
India joined Russia and China in ruling that the conflict is an internal matter.
All three African non-permanent members on the Security Council – Kenya, Niger and Tunisia – had indicated their support for the issuance of a joint statement.
On Friday, rights activists slammed the failure of the Security Council to adopt the joint statement, criticizing India, Russia and China for hiding behind sovereignty to fail victims of rights violations as well as failing to uphold the principle of Responsibility to Protect.
The statement would have called for a halt to hostilities, an immediate, unhindered access for humanitarian aid workers and a reaffirmation of Ethiopia’s sovereignty.
Gross human rights violations have been reported in Tigray with some rights groups saying they could amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity.
Amnesty International cited survivors and eyewitnesses to massacres last November 29 and 30 during which as many as 800 people are said to have been slaughtered in the holy city of Aksum.
The massacres were blamed on Ethiopian federal forces as well as on Eritrean forces that the United States and the European Union have accused of fighting alongside Ethiopian forces in Tigray.
Both Addis Ababa and Asmara have denied that Eritrea forces are in Tigray.
Ertirea has been dismissive of the rights violations alleged by rights groups, including claims that Eritrean troops forcefully repatriated Eritrean refugees back to Asmara in what qualifies as rendition under intrenatinoal law.
The Ethiopian government-created human rights commission urged both the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea to take the allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity seriously.
The UN Human Rights Comossioner Michelle Bachelet has demanded access for its experts to investigate reports of sexual and gender-based violence, extra-judicial killings and widespread destruction.
On Friday, Human Rights Watch added its voice to calls for an urgent United Nations-backed inquiry into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Ethiopian prime minister, Abiy Ahmed Ali, sent federal troops into Tigray last November 4 to combat forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Thousands of people have been killed in the fighting which is ongoing, according to the ousted leaders of TPLF who are on the run but have pledged to fight on.