The UN has warned that the ongoing conflict between rebels led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and Ethiopian government forces threatens to “consume” Ethiopia’s future.
The UN’s top official for political and peacebuilding affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, told the UN Security Council that the year-long conflict has reached “disastrous proportions” as the newly-formed United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces (UFEFCF) close in on the capital of Addis Ababa.
DiCarlo expressed that, “The fighting places the future of the country, and its people, as well as the stability of the wider Horn of Africa region, in grave uncertainty.”
“Let me be clear; no one can predict what continued fighting and insecurity will bring, but what is certain is that the risk of Ethiopia descending into a wider civil war is only too real. This would bring forth a humanitarian catastrophe and consume the future of Ethiopia,” she added.
According to UN estimates, over seven million people are in need of humanitarian aid in northern Ethiopia alone, with 400,000 living in famine-like conditions. According to DiCarlo, efforts to soften the humanitarian crisis have been hindered by “an ill ability to move cash, fuel and supplies into the region.”
DiCarlo further stated that, “this expanding crisis is happening in a country that was already grappling with enormous humanitarian challenges, including local conflicts, flooding, drought and infectious disease outbreaks. Across Ethiopia as a whole, more than 20 million people are estimated to need some form of humanitarian support, with urgent needs being most acute in the north.”
In a bid to remove Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed from power, the TPLF, along with at least eight other groups, including the Oromo Liberation Army, have joined forces to form the UFEFCF.
Last week, Ethiopia declared a state of emergency as TPLF rebels made military gains against government forces, closing to within 200 miles of Addis Ababa.