Ethiopia: G7, EU Call Presence of Foreign Forces in Tigray 'Deeply Disturbing and Destabilizing; MSF Warns of 'Alarming Malnutrition'

Addis Abeba — The Foreign and Development Ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) and the High Representative of the European Union called "the presence of foreign forces in Tigray is deeply disturbing and destabilizing."

A joint statement issued following a meeting by the G7 and the EU said the two blocks "acknowledge the announcement from the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea that Eritrean forces will withdraw from Tigray but remain concerned that this has not yet commenced."

"The process of withdrawal must be swift, unconditional and verifiable."

The statement from G7 and the EU is the second in as many weeks. On April 02, they called for "the end of violence" in Tigray and the "establishment of a clear inclusive political process that is acceptable to all Ethiopians, including those in Tigray and which leads to credible elections and a wider national reconciliation process."

The latest statement came in the heels of a warning by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) that its "teams are observing alarming levels of malnutrition among children, pregnant & breastfeeding mothers screened at mobile clinics in rural areas throughout the Northwest zone of Tigray region."

MSF said that over the past two weeks, of the 309 children coming to one of its remote clinics, "there was malnutrition rate of 26.6% and more than 6% of children had severe acute malnutrition. This warrants immediate attention," it said. "However, this data masks pockets of even higher levels of malnutrition in some areas. At one of our clinics, 12% of all children screened had severe acute malnutrition, which means they are very underweight.

The true scale of malnutrition in many areas remains unknown as many villages have not been reached by humanitarian organizations. There is a lot of variation in the level of food insecurity in different places. Some people still have access to markets/livelihoods, while others do not. We have heard from our patients in 7 rural areas that they cannot access food distribution. Our teams are witnessing insufficient and disproportional provision of aid. While more organizations have sent teams to Tigray, the response hardly ever extends beyond larger towns leaving thousands of people without humanitarian aid."

G7 & EU joint statement

We recall our statement of 2 April 2021 about the situation in Tigray, and remain deeply concerned about the continued violence and the worsening humanitarian and human rights crises. We condemn the killing of civilians, rape and sexual exploitation, and other forms of gender-based violence, destruction and looting of religious and cultural heritage sites, and the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans and Eritrean refugees. We welcome the agreement between the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate human rights violations and abuses.

We call on all parties to cease hostilities immediately, ensure the protection of civilians and respect human rights and international law as well as media freedom and access, and hold those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, including sexual violence, accountable. We urge parties to the conflict to provide immediate, unhindered humanitarian access, given the worsening food insecurity.

The presence of foreign forces in Tigray is deeply disturbing and destabilizing. We acknowledge the announcement from the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea that Eritrean forces will withdraw from Tigray but remain concerned that this has not yet commenced.

The process of withdrawal must be swift, unconditional and verifiable. We call for the establishment of a clear inclusive political process in Tigray. We remain committed to the unity and territorial integrity of Ethiopia. We also call for a broader inclusive political process in Ethiopia to enable credible elections and wider national reconciliation.

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