Hope for peace after two years of war
Recent days and weeks have witnessed positive developments with regard to a lasting peaceful settlement of the Tigray conflict. Representatives of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian Federal Government reached agreement on a permanent ceasefire at the beginning of November. Since then, a great deal of tangible progress has been made in resolving the conflict. Tigray militias are being disarmed, basic services for people in the region are being restored and humanitarian access is being improved. Residents of major cities such as Mekelle and Shire have access to electricity and mobile communications once again. At the end of December, the national carrier Ethiopian Airlines also resumed flights to the northern part of the country, which is an important prerequisite for boosting the economy in the north.
The fact that all these steps are being taken now cannot be taken for granted. The war in Ethiopia was one of the deadliest in the past two years and divisions of mistrust in society run deep. That is why it is now important to support the positive developments on the path to peace in Ethiopia in every way we can. The two Foreign Ministers will hold talks on this issue with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen, Minister of Justice Gedion Timotheos and the country’s President Sahle-Work Zewde. Another focus of the talks will be the question of human rights. According to UN reports, most severe human rights crimes were committed by all parties during the conflict. The Ethiopian Government is currently working to establish a transitional justice mechanism to investigate these crimes and bring perpetrators to justice. At the same time, an international commission of experts has also been mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the crimes.
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine also destabilising the Horn of Africa: Germany and France cushioning the impact on the region
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has driven up food prices through a combination of supply shortages, higher energy prices and export restrictions. According to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), about 345 million people are acutely malnourished at the present time, 69 million more than when Russia’s war of aggression began. Of these, 47 million cases of malnutrition can be attributed to the impacts of the war of aggression, according to the WFP, which has found the situation in Ethiopia to be particularly critical. In the Horn of Africa, a catastrophic drought is making it difficult to obtain sufficient food supplies, and it has not rained in many parts of the region for five years.
During their visit, the Foreign Ministers will visit a World Food Programme warehouse where sacks of wheat from Ukraine are piled right up to the ceiling. This donation of wheat from Ukraine to Ethiopia is now being quickly distributed to those in need in Ethiopia. It is part of the Grain from Ukraine initiative launched by Ukraine together with international partners. Under the initiative, Ukraine is providing grain to tackle the hardship in countries particularly affected by hunger, such as Ethiopia. International donor partners bear the transport and distribution costs. Germany covered the transport costs for grain shipments to Ethiopia, while France is supporting the transport of 25,000 tonnes of grain to neighbouring Somalia. The delivery of 25,000 tonnes of grain to Ethiopia will ensure food security for 1.6 million people in Ethiopia for one month.
The African Union: An important partner for Europe in the pursuit of peace and security
The African Union (AU) has its headquarters in Addis Ababa. Foreign Ministers Annalena Baerbock and Catherine Colonna will use the second day of their visit to Ethiopia to meet Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki. Together, they want to strengthen the partnership between the European Union and the African Union.
Although it was founded only some 20 years ago, the AU is already playing an important role in launching mediation and peace missions in Africa. The African Union is engaged in the long term, for instance in Somalia (with some 19,500 troops as part of AMISOM/ATMIS since 2007), and in a variety of acute crises in Africa. The African Union also mediated the ceasefire in Ethiopia under the leadership of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The AU has a special focus on strengthening the political role of women in peace processes, in line with the UN Security Council’s Women, Peace and Security agenda. AU initiatives include FemWise, a network of African women promoting conflict prevention and mediation, and the African Women Leaders Network, which aims to ensure women’s leadership in the implementation of the development agenda for Africa (Agenda 2063). Both initiatives enjoy Germany’s support.