Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.
Ethiopian leadership has expressed an aim to wipe out Tigrayans by carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing, claimed Finland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pekka Haavisto, during a Tuesday question-and-answer session.
“When I met the Ethiopian leadership in February, they really used this kind of language that they are going to destroy the Tigrayans, they are going to wipe out the Tigrayans for 100 years and so forth,” said the EU Envoy.
Since the violent conflict started in Tigray seven months ago, reports have indicated the use of rape as a weapon of war, mass executions, forced displacements, and other heinous human rights abuses.
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“I think that’s very obvious that we have to react because it looks for us like ethnic cleansing,” said Haavisto.
While the Ethiopian government has maintained that the conflict in Tigray is part of a necessary military campaign responding to insurgency, reports of widespread human rights abuses against civilians raise concerns for many that Abiy Ahmed and the Ethiopian government have an entirely different agenda aimed at disrupting and destabilizing an entire region and ethnic group.
In Tigray, millions have been forced to flee their homes and severe damage has been done to regional food supplies, infrastructure, schools, and medical facilities.
According to the United Nations, over 350,000 people in Tigray are currently suffering from famine conditions and millions more are at high risk.
The Ethiopian foreign ministry dismissed Haavisto’s comments about ethnic cleansing in Tigray as “ludicrous” and a “hallucination of sorts or a lapse in memory of some kind.” The Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs met in February with Abiy Ahmed and other members of the Ethiopian government.
The Ethiopian and Eritrean governments have disregarded pleas to cease hostilities and allow unfettered humanitarian access to Tigray. Despite mounting international pressure from the United States, European Union, and United Nations, Eritrean forces have yet to withdraw from the region.