Connect with us

World

African Union, U.S. see small window of opportunity to end Ethiopia fighting

Published

on

November 8, 2021

UNITED NATIONS/ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) -The African Union and the United States see a small window of opportunity to end fighting in Ethiopia, they said on Monday, as the United Nations warned that the risk of Ethiopia spiralling into a widening civil war is “only too real.”

The AU envoy for the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, and U.N. political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo both briefed the U.N. Security Council.

Speaking from Ethiopia, Obasanjo said that by the end of the week “we hope to have a program in hand that will indicate” how they can achieve humanitarian access and a withdrawal of troops that satisfies all the parties. The United Nations estimates 400,000 people in the northern region of Tigray are living in famine-like conditions following a year of war.

Advertisement

“All these leaders, here in Addis Ababa and in the north, agree individually that the differences between them are political and require a political solution through dialogue,” Obasanjo told the 15-member council, but stressed: “The window of opportunity we have is very little and that time is short.”

The U.S. State Department also said on Monday that Washington believes there is a small window to work with the AU to make progress on ending the conflict as U.S. envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, returned to Addis Ababa.

The African Union earlier on Monday held a closed-door meeting to discuss the crisis.

The conflict started in November 2020 when forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), seized military bases in Tigray. In response, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent more troops to the northern region. Thousands have been killed and more than 2 million have fled their homes.

Ethiopia’s U.N. Ambassador Taye Atske Selassie Amde told the U.N. Security Council: “Our route to a dialogue and political solution will not be straightforward or easy.”

Advertisement

“For now we’re focused on halting TPLF and rescuing and reaching our public that suffered immensely,” he said.

‘TIME TO PUT YOUR WEAPONS DOWN’

The war has intensified in recent weeks. Tigrayan forces and their allies are threatening to march on Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, while the government has declared a six-month state of emergency.

“It is time to put your weapons down,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said at the Security Council. “This war between angry, belligerent men – victimizing women and children – has to stop.”

The TPLF had dominated national politics for nearly three decades but lost influence when Abiy took office in 2018. The TPLF accused him of centralising power at the expense of regional states. Abiy denies this.

Advertisement

Obasanjo told the council he had met with Abiy, the leader of Ethiopia’s Oromio region and travelled to Mekelle on Sunday to meet TPLF leaders. He plans to travel to the regions of Amhara and Afar on Tuesday, where the conflict has spread from neighbouring Tigray.

DiCarlo said the conflict had reached “disastrous proportions” and that incidents of hate speech and targeting of ethnic groups have “increased at an alarming rate. She told the U.N. Security Council: “What is certain is that the risk of Ethiopia descending into widening civil war is only too real.”

The Security Council on Friday called for an end to the fighting in Ethiopia and for talks on a lasting ceasefire as the body expressed deep concern in a rare statement about the expansion and intensification of military clashes.

(Reporting by Addis Ababa newsroom, Michelle Nichols at the United Nations, Daphne Psaledakis in Washington Additional reporting by Nairobi newsroom; Writing by Maggie Fick and Michelle Nichols; Editing by Richard Chang and Grant McCool)

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement

World

Three missionaries released in Haiti following October kidnapping

Published

on

December 7, 2021

By Katharine Jackson

(Reuters) – Three missionaries who were kidnapped in Haiti in October have been released, the U.S. State Department and the Ohio-based missionary group that organized the group’s trip to the Caribbean nation said on Monday.

“We are thankful to God that three more hostages were released last night. Those who were released are safe and seem to be in good spirits,” Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement.

Advertisement

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday confirmed the release, adding that the United States is continuing to work to secure the release of the others.

Haitian National Police spokesman Garry Desrosiers said the three were released on Sunday night. He declined to give additional details, citing the security of the remaining hostages.

Sixteen Americans and one Canadian, including five children, were abducted after visiting an orphanage. The incident has highlighted Haiti’s dire kidnapping problem, which has worsened in recent months amid economic troubles and political upheaval.

Two other ministry group members were released last month.

(Reporting by Katharine Jackson in Washington; Additional reporting by Gessika Thomas in Port-au-Prince; Editing by Susan Heavey and Matthew Lewis)

Advertisement

Continue Reading

World

Dutch court to rule on Palestinian’s case against Israeli defence minister

Published

on

December 7, 2021

By Stephanie van den Berg

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – An appeals court in the Netherlands rules on Tuesday in a case alleging war crimes against Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who is blamed by a Dutch Palestinian for the loss of six relatives in an Israeli air strike on Gaza in 2014.

Ismail Ziada filed the civil case against Gantz and another former senior Israeli military official, seeking unspecified damages under Dutch universal jurisdiction rules. His case was thrown out by a lower Dutch court in January 2020.

Advertisement

Universal jurisdiction allows countries to prosecute serious offences such as war crimes and torture no matter where they were committed.

But the lower court ruled that the principles of universal jurisdiction could be applied for individual criminal responsibility, but not in civil cases.

Ziada appealed, arguing that universal jurisdiction should be applied in civil cases if the alleged conduct involved serious violations of international humanitarian law. He asked the appeals judges to reverse the decision, which effectively granted Gantz immunity from prosecution.

Gantz, a career soldier turned politician, was commander-in-chief of the Israeli armed forces during a war against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip in 2014, when the incident took place.

About 2,200 Palestinians are estimated to have been killed, up to 1,500 of them civilians, in the conflict, according to U.N. figures. Ziada said he lost relatives when his family home in Gaza was bombed during a June 2014 Israeli air strike. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and five civilians were killed.

Advertisement

Gaza is controlled by the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement, regarded by the West as a terrorist organization. Israel says Hamas puts civilians in harm’s way by deploying fighters and weaponry inside densely populated areas of Gaza. 

    Human rights groups have accused both sides of war crimes in the 2014 conflict. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently investigating alleged war crimes committed on Palestinian territory since June 2014 by both Israeli defence forces and Palestinian armed groups.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg in The Hague with additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Mark Heinrich)

Advertisement
Continue Reading

World

Global finance system partly to blame for inequality – World Bank’s Malpass

Published

on

December 7, 2021

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – World Bank President David Malpass on Monday said fiscal and monetary policies were operating in “uncharted territory” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and may be contributing to a sharp rise in global inequality and poverty.

Malpass told a roundtable hosted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang the number of people in extreme poverty had increased by over 100 million since the beginning of the pandemic even as global spending has increased to an all-time record.

Advertisement

Advanced economies have rebounded, while the poorest countries had seen only a weak rebound, or none at all, he said. This was causing “tragic reversals” in median incomes, women’s empowerment and nutrition, he said, and inflation, supply chain bottlenecks, and high energy prices were aggravating these trends.

“Part of the inequality problem is global finance itself and the unequal structure of the stimulus,” Malpass said, noting that prevailing sovereign debt, fiscal and monetary policies were adding to inequality.

Malpass said monetary policy in the advanced economies had long focused on reserve requirement ratios and limited growth in bank reserves to achieve stability in currencies and prices, an approach still used by China.

Other major central banks had switched to a “post-monetarism system” of using very large amounts of excess bank reserves to purchase and hold long-duration bonds and other assets, which he said provided price support for a highly select group of assets.

That approach, he said, excluded small businesses and developing countries, while restraining policy through regulation of liquidity and bank capitalization ratios.

Advertisement

Fiscal policy was also channeling resources to narrow groups within major borrowers, while leaving others behind, and sovereign debt policies were contributing to inequality.

Malpass repeated his call for greater transparency in debt contracts and a freeze in debt payments for countries with unsustainable debt. He said creditors should move away from collateral and escrow arrangements.

“As one of the largest creditors of developing countries, China’s active participation and strong voice in debt reduction efforts are very much needed and would benefit all participants by encouraging sustainable investment and debt,” he said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by David Gregorio)

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending