The members of the United Eritrean Australian Movement for Justice express their shock at the alarming recent developments in the Horn of Africa, particularly in Ethiopia. We are saddened to learn that as of the 4th of November, the political conflict in Ethiopia has escalated into an open civil war between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray Regional Government.
This has come despite numerous calls for peace by many concerned members of the public, civic organisations, international agencies, and political parties, both within and outside Ethiopia. We are deeply concerned that this will lead to unnecessary deaths and destruction in a region that has already seen decades of conflict, drought and poverty.
We are also deeply concerned that the belligerent actions of the Eritrean President are contributing to the dangerous situation in Ethiopia. His unhinged behaviour and reckless actions could drag Eritrea into this tragic conflict, risking a regional conflict reminiscent of the 1998-2000 border war between Eritrea and Ethiopia.
The conflict claimed the lives of more than a hundred thousand people, and hundreds of thousands more were displaced. The region cannot afford further bloodshed, and yet the political crisis in Ethiopia has been escalating, with the Eritrean President adding fuel to the already volatile situation.
This is evident given:
· The President openly declared that he would not idly sit by, but would actively work to influence developments in Ethiopia.
· The President has already taken sides in this conflict, as shown by his provocative rhetoric and a relationship with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed that lacks transparency.
· Despite declaring in 2018 that borders were no longer important to him, the President has recently brought back the issue of occupied territories to justify his interference in another country’s internal conflict. It must be noted that for over two years, President Isaias Afwerki and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed have not shown any interest in implementing the outcome of the Algiers’ Agreement, which awarded Badime, the flash point of the 1998-2000 border war, to Eritrea.
· In recent days, there have been large troop movements inside Eritrea. This includes the mobilisation of new high school and college graduates to military camps last week, and massive round ups of other recruits.
We therefore call up on:
· The International Community and the Australian Government in particular to send a clear message to the Eritrean President to stop meddling in a conflict that could drag Eritrea into another war.
· All Eritreans inside Eritrea and the Diaspora to reject, and loudly express their disapproval of, Eritrea’s involvement in this war in any form. The Eritrean people have already suffered enough due to unnecessary war and dictatorial rule.
· The Eritrean Defence Forces to reject all orders to be involved in this conflict. Under the brutal dictatorship, members of the defence forces have endured a prolonged stalemate in the border conflict with Ethiopia. Tragic as it is, the current Ethiopian conflict is an internal affair of a sovereign country in which Eritrea should never take sides or interfere.
The conflict in Ethiopia has the potential to destabilise the entire Horn of Africa. The United Eritrean Australian Movement for Justice, therefore hopes that both parties cease hostilities, de-escalate the tense situation, and resolve their differences peacefully in order to bring peace and prosperity to the neighbourly Ethiopian people.