By Cecilia Ologunagba
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia, particularly the “unspeakable violence” against women and others in Tigray.
Guterres said this on Thursday while briefing journalists at UN headquarters, New York, after meeting with the Security Council.
The secretary-general said, on World Humanitarian Day, he recognised humanitarians “and the many millions of people they strive to help everyday.”
He described the misery of the Ethiopian people, and the “hellish” humanitarian conditions they were facing, with millions in need and infrastructure destroyed. The spread of the conflict, he added, had “ensnared even more people in its horror.
“Now is the time to put an end to the suffering.
“It is time for all parties to recognise that there is no military solution, and it is vital to preserve the unity and stability of Ethiopia, which is critical to the region and beyond.”
To give peace a chance in Ethiopia, the secretary-general appealed for action on three fronts: an immediate end to hostilities; guaranteed, unrestricted humanitarian access, together with the re-establishment of public services in all affected areas; and solution to the crisis.
“Such dialogue can contribute to addressing the underlying causes of the conflict and ensure Ethiopian voices direct the pathway to peace,” the UN chief explained, calling each of these steps “critical” to a peaceful settlement.
Guterres assured journalists that the UN would continue to have a humanitarian presence in and near Tigray, although there is a lack of full humanitarian access.
The UN chief added that the UN would continue to work together with the African Union and other partners “to support the Ethiopian people on the way to peace and reconciliation.”
Thursday also marked the National Day of Afghanistan, and the top diplomat directed a special message to the Afghan people “during this trying time.
“The United Nations is with you and committed to stay and deliver to help advance peace, opportunity and human rights for all.”
The UN chief also paid tribute to humanitarians who are providing life-saving support in places like Haiti, saying that “our hearts ache at the suffering and devastating toll from the recent earthquake.
“The UN is on the ground there providing relief, including medical supplies and health care, clean water and emergency shelter.”