Eritrea told the United Nations Security Council on Friday that it agreed to begin withdrawing its troops from Ethiopia’s Tigray region, publicly acknowledging the country’s involvement in the conflict for the first time.
The admission in a letter to the 15-member council, and posted online by Eritrea’s Information Ministry, comes a day after UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said the world body had not seen any. proof that the Eritrean soldiers had withdrawn.
“As the looming serious threat has been largely thwarted, Eritrea and Ethiopia have agreed, at the highest level, to embark on the withdrawal of Eritrean forces and the simultaneous redeployment of Ethiopian contingents along the border. international, “wrote Eritrea’s UN ambassador, Sophia Tesfamariam.
Eritrean forces have been helping Ethiopian federal government troops fight the former ruling Tigray party in a conflict that began in November. However, so far Eritrea has repeatedly denied that its forces are in the mountainous region.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed recognized the Eritrean presence last month and the United Nations and the United States have demanded that Eritrean troops withdraw from Tigray.
“Neither the UN nor any of the humanitarian agencies we work with have seen evidence of Eritrea’s withdrawal,” Lowcock told the Security Council on Thursday. “However, we have heard some reports of Eritrean soldiers now wearing Ethiopian Defense Forces uniforms.” read more
The conflict has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands more to flee their homes in the region of 5 million.
Lowcock said there were “widespread and substantiated reports of Eritrea’s guilt in massacres and killings.” Eritrean soldiers opened fire in an Ethiopian city on Monday, killing at least nine civilians and wounding more than a dozen, a local government official told Reuters.
The Security Council has been briefed privately five times since the conflict began. According to Lowcock’s briefing notes on Thursday, he told the body that sexual violence is being used as a weapon of war, the humanitarian crisis has deteriorated in the last month, and people are now starving in Tigray.
“We hear false accusations about the ‘use of sexual violence and hunger as a weapon,'” Tesfamariam wrote on Friday. “The accusations of rape and other crimes brought against Eritrean soldiers are not only scandalous, but also a cruel attack on the culture and history of our people.”
He said the priority should be the delivery of aid to civilians in Tigray.
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