The PM noted that the Welkait territorial issue will be resolved through legal means, and emphasized that 1.8 million Tigrayans had been on the Saftey Net Food Aid Program prior to the start of the conflict. He also stressed the humanitarian situation has been exacerbated by the plague of locusts, COVID-19, and the inability of farmers to harvest their crops due to the TPLF starting the conflict.
PM Abiy went to Asmara after he gave his speech for a two day working trip with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki. The following day he announced that the Eritrean President has agreed to the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from areas near the Ethiopian border.
Twelve UN representatives, including former TPLF member and current WHO director general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom signed a joint statement calling on all parties in Tigray to protect the human rights of civilians. The UN in addition reported 516 cases of rape in various places in the Tigray region.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed remarked in his speech that a lot of the concerns from the international community does not match their action on the ground and he quipped that "Tweet concerns" will not feed the people of Tigray.
On US Concerns
Senator Chris Coons returned after his two day trip to Ethiopia in which he met with Prime Minister Abiy for five hours over two days as well as AU officials. He also met with Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen and Daniel Bekele, Head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. Dina Mufti, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reported that the Senator was briefed repeatedly on how US calls for the removal of Amhara regional troops are inappropriate and infringe on the country's sovereignty. Mr. Coons, in a private briefing to reporters, said he pressed Prime Minister Abiy for a unilateral cessation of hostilities but the PM strongly rejected the proposal. The Senator said that he had a positive and promising stay.
The European Union imposed sanctions on the Eritrean National Security Office due to human rights concerns unrelated to Tigray. The sanctions aren't expected to have a significant impact on the organization and the Eritrean Ministry of Information called them “baseless and offensive” accusing the EU of “doggedly working to save and bring back to power the defunct TPLF clique”.
Earlier in the week, prior to the announcement that Eritrea had agreed to withdraw its troops by PM Abiy Ahmed, the EU High Representative Joseph Borrell made a statement calling for their withdrawal and independent investigations into alleged human rights abuses. He warned punitive actions might follow if these concerns aren’t addressed. He also announced that EU emissary Pekka Haavisto will be sent back on a mission to Ethiopia to assess the situation. Mr. Borrell repeated these calls again in a joint statement he made with US Secretary of State Blinken.
Ethiopia celebrated 10 years since it started building the GERD. Prime Minister Abiy in his speech to Parliament reiterated that Ethiopia has absolutely no intention of harming Egypt and that his side is ready to sign an agreement on the filling part of the GERD negotiations. He also affirmed that the GERD filling planned this summer will proceed as scheduled with or without an agreement.