Ethiopian leader rejects international 'interference' in war

  • A Tigray refugee girl who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, sits on aid she received from the UNHCR and WFP at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020.

    A Tigray refugee girl who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, sits on aid she received from the UNHCR and WFP at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Associated Press

  • Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, are ordered to organize themselves in line to receive aid at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020.

    Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, are ordered to organize themselves in line to receive aid at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Associated Press

  • Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, wait to receive aid at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020.

    Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, wait to receive aid at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Associated Press

  • This satellite image taken Monday, Nov. 23, 2020 and released by Maxar Technologies, shows vehicles queuing for fuel in Mekele, the capital of the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Ethiopia's prime minister is rejecting growing international consensus for dialogue and a halt to deadly fighting in the Tigray region as "unwelcome," saying his country will handle the conflict on its own as a 72-hour surrender ultimatum runs out on Wednesday. (Maxar Technologies via AP)

    This satellite image taken Monday, Nov. 23, 2020 and released by Maxar Technologies, shows vehicles queuing for fuel in Mekele, the capital of the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Ethiopia's prime minister is rejecting growing international consensus for dialogue and a halt to deadly fighting in the Tigray region as "unwelcome," saying his country will handle the conflict on its own as a 72-hour surrender ultimatum runs out on Wednesday. (Maxar Technologies via AP) Associated Press

  • A clinic where Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, get treated at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020.

    A clinic where Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, get treated at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Associated Press

  • Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, wait to receive aid at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020.

    Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, wait to receive aid at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Associated Press

  • This satellite image taken Monday, Nov. 23, 2020 and released by Maxar Technologies, shows trenches across the runway of Axum airport in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Ethiopia's prime minister is rejecting growing international consensus for dialogue and a halt to deadly fighting in the Tigray region as "unwelcome," saying his country will handle the conflict on its own as a 72-hour surrender ultimatum runs out on Wednesday. (Maxar Technologies via AP)

    This satellite image taken Monday, Nov. 23, 2020 and released by Maxar Technologies, shows trenches across the runway of Axum airport in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Ethiopia's prime minister is rejecting growing international consensus for dialogue and a halt to deadly fighting in the Tigray region as "unwelcome," saying his country will handle the conflict on its own as a 72-hour surrender ultimatum runs out on Wednesday. (Maxar Technologies via AP) Associated Press

  • Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, wait to receive aid at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020.

    Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, wait to receive aid at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Associated Press

  • A general view of the clinic where Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, get treated at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020.

    A general view of the clinic where Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, get treated at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Associated Press

  • This satellite image taken Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020 and released by Maxar Technologies, shows Ethiopian refugees gathered on the banks of the Tekeze River on the Sudan-Ethiopia border, near Hamdayet, eastern Sudan. Ethiopia's prime minister is rejecting growing international consensus for dialogue and a halt to deadly fighting in the Tigray region as "unwelcome," saying his country will handle the conflict on its own as a 72-hour surrender ultimatum runs out on Wednesday. (Maxar Technologies via AP)

    This satellite image taken Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020 and released by Maxar Technologies, shows Ethiopian refugees gathered on the banks of the Tekeze River on the Sudan-Ethiopia border, near Hamdayet, eastern Sudan. Ethiopia's prime minister is rejecting growing international consensus for dialogue and a halt to deadly fighting in the Tigray region as "unwelcome," saying his country will handle the conflict on its own as a 72-hour surrender ultimatum runs out on Wednesday. (Maxar Technologies via AP) Associated Press

  • A clinic where Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, get treated at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020.

    A clinic where Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, get treated at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Associated Press

  • This satellite image taken Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020 and released by Maxar Technologies, shows Ethiopian refugees gathered at a transit center in the border town of Hamdayet, in eastern Sudan. Ethiopia's prime minister is rejecting growing international consensus for dialogue and a halt to deadly fighting in the Tigray region as "unwelcome," saying his country will handle the conflict on its own as a 72-hour surrender ultimatum runs out on Wednesday. (Maxar Technologies via AP)

    This satellite image taken Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020 and released by Maxar Technologies, shows Ethiopian refugees gathered at a transit center in the border town of Hamdayet, in eastern Sudan. Ethiopia's prime minister is rejecting growing international consensus for dialogue and a halt to deadly fighting in the Tigray region as "unwelcome," saying his country will handle the conflict on its own as a 72-hour surrender ultimatum runs out on Wednesday. (Maxar Technologies via AP) Associated Press

  • Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, receive aid from the UNHCR at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020.

    Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, receive aid from the UNHCR at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Associated Press

  • Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, wait to receive aid at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020.

    Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, wait to receive aid at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Associated Press

  • Tigray refugee women who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, wait in line to receive dignity kits at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020.

    Tigray refugee women who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, wait in line to receive dignity kits at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 11/25/2020 2:21 PM

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Ethiopia's prime minister is rejecting growing international consensus for dialogue and a halt to deadly fighting in the Tigray region as 'œunwelcome,' saying his country will handle the conflict on its own as a 72-hour surrender ultimatum runs out on Wednesday.

Some people were 'œfleeing Mekele in search of safety,' the United Nations said of the Tigray regional capital. Meanwhile, a statement this week from a civil society representative in the region, seen by The Associated Press, described heavy bombardment of communities elsewhere that has kept many residents from fleeing. It pleaded for a safe corridor to ship in aid as food runs out.

 

However, the international community should 'œstand by' until Ethiopia's government asks for assistance, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's office said in a statement as government forces were reportedly positioned well outside Mekele with tanks. 'œWe respectfully urge the international community to refrain from any unwelcome and unlawful acts of interference," it added.

The government led by Abiy, last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, has warned Mekele's half-million residents to move away from the Tigray People's Liberation Front leaders or there will be 'œno mercy' - language that the United Nations human rights chief and others have warned could lead to 'œfurther violations of international humanitarian law.'

But communications remain almost completely severed to the Tigray region of some 6 million people, and is not clear how many people in Mekele are aware of the warnings and the threat of artillery fire.

'œWarnings alone do not absolve the government of its duty to take constant care to protect civilians when carrying out military operations in urban areas that are home to thousands of people who may not be able to reach more secure areas,' Human Rights Watch's Horn of Africa director Laetitia Bader said in a statement.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Diplomats said U.N. Security Council members in a closed-door meeting Tuesday expressed support for an African Union-led effort to deploy three high-level envoys to Ethiopia. But Ethiopia has said the envoys cannot meet with the TPLF leaders.

'œThis conflict is already seriously destabilizing the region,' European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Tuesday after meeting with Ethiopia's foreign minister.

'œBoth sides should immediately begin dialogue facilitated by the AU,' the national security adviser for U.S. president-elect Joe Biden, Jake Sullivan, tweeted.

The Tigray regional leader, Debretsion Gebremichael, could not immediately be reached.

The TPLF dominated Ethiopia's government for more than a quarter-century, but was sidelined after Abiy took office in 2018 and sought to centralize power. The TPLF opted out when Abiy dissolved the ruling coalition, then infuriated the federal government by holding an election in September after national elections were postponed by COVID-19. Each side now regards the other as illegal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

One Ethiopian military official claimed that more than 10,000 'œjunta forces' have been 'œdestroyed' since the fighting began on Nov. 4, when Abiy accused the TPLF of attacking a military base. Col. Abate Nigatu told the Amhara Mass Media Agency that more than 15,000 heavy weapons and small arms had been seized.

The international community has urgently called for communications to be restored to the Tigray region so such claims can be investigated, and for immediate humanitarian access. The U.N. says it has been unable to send supplies into Tigray and that people there are 'œterrified.'

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people have been killed in three weeks of fighting. More than 40,000 refugees have fled into Sudan. And nearly 100,000 Eritrean refugees at camps in northern Tigray have come close to the line of fire.

Misery continues for the refugees in Sudan, with little food, little medicine, little shelter, little funding and little or no contact with loved ones left behind in Tigray. 'œWe are absolutely not ready,' said Suleiman Ali Mousa, the governor of Qadarif province.

'œHelp us so that we don't die,' said one refugee, Terhas Adiso. 'œWe came from war. We were scared we were going to die from the war and we came here, we don't want to die of hunger, disease. If they are going to help us they need to help us quickly. That's all I am going to say.'

Meanwhile, reports continued of alleged targeting of ethnic Tigrayans, even outside Ethiopia. Three soldiers serving with the U.N. peacekeeping force in South Sudan were ordered home over the weekend, the force said in a statement. The AP has confirmed the repatriated soldiers are Tigrayan.

'œIf personnel are discriminated against because of their ethnicity or any other reason, this could involve a human rights violation under international law,' the statement said.

Abiy's government has said it aims to protect civilians, including Tigrayans, but reports continue of arrests, discrimination, house-to-house searches and frozen bank accounts.

___

Fay Abuelgasim in Umm Rakouba contributed.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.