0813 GMT January 22, 2022
“A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding before our eyes,” António Guterres warned. “The unity of Ethiopia and the stability of the region are at stake,” he added, calling for an immediate ceasefire and the launch of national political dialogue, according to the UN official website.
Outlining the severity of the situation, the UN chief said the military front lines in Tigray have reached the regions of neighbouring Amhara and Afar.
The government’s June declaration of a unilateral ceasefire and withdrawal of the National Defence Forces from Mekelle have not led to a comprehensive ceasefire.
Tigray remains under a de-facto humanitarian blockade and cut off from electricity and communications, the UN chief informed the ambassadors.
Guterres said that actors in Ethiopia have entered the fight through mass mobilization and the activation of regional and armed groups.
“Inflammatory rhetoric and ethnic profiling are tearing apart the social fabric of the country,” he emphasized.
Moreover, the human price of the war is “mounting by the day,” as more than two million people have been displaced and millions more are in immediate need of food, water, shelter and health care, said the secretary-general.
At least 400,000 people are living in famine-like conditions, with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) warning that 100,000 people face severe acute malnutrition within the year.
Amid reports of sexual and gender-based violence, refugee camps have been destroyed and hospitals looted.
“I condemn these atrocious acts in the strongest possible terms,” underscored the secretary-general. “There must be accountability.”