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One year after truce, war crimes continue in Ethiopia’s Tigray— UN Expert

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A United Nations expert, Mohamed Chande Othman has confirmed that war crimes have continued in Ethiopia’s Tigray region despite a peace truce between warring parties.

Othman, who is the chair of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia, on Monday, said in a statement that “While the signing of the agreement may have mostly silenced the guns, it has not resolved the conflict in the north of the country, in particular in Tigray, nor has it brought about any comprehensive peace.”

According to the Commission’s report, there have been attacks by the Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF) against civilians in Tigray that are “grave and ongoing.”

Another member of the commission, Radhika Coomaraswamy called the sexual abuse occurring during the conflict “as nasty as it gets.”

“I must admit the worst of this was that perpetrated by Eritrean forces in Tigray. Though, of course, Ethiopian forces were also responsible,” she said, adding that Tigrayan forces had also perpetrated sexual violence in Amhara.

The Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in the northern region Tuesday agreed to a permanent truce to cease hostilities following the conclusion of a peace deal brokered by the African Union in South Africa.

The Tigray Region is the northernmost regional state of Ethiopia. The region is the homeland of the Tigrayan, Irob, and Kunama people.

According to the Commission’s assessment, the federal government “has tolerated” infractions, failing in its responsibility to protect the public. It also found that a “widespread and systematic offensive” against civilian populations by the Ethiopian National Defence Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces, and allied regional special forces included murder, torture, rape, and other wrongdoings.

Meanwhile, in addition to pledging to look into reports of specific atrocities, Ethiopia’s government and armed forces have consistently denied that their members engaged in widespread criminal activity either alone or in concert with Eritrean forces. Authorities from the Ethiopian region of Amhara have also denied that their forces committed atrocities in neighbouring Tigray.

Musings From Abroad

US appoints Tom Perriello new special envoy to Sudan

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In an attempt to exert direct influence over Sudan’s peace process, the United States has appointed congressman and former diplomat, Tom Perriello, as special envoy.

According to a dispatch, Mr. Perriello would assist in coordinating US diplomacy and efforts with allies throughout Africa and the Middle East to put a stop to the conflict, humanitarian catastrophe, and atrocities.

Perriello will “advance our efforts to end the hostilities, secure unhindered humanitarian access, and support the Sudanese people as they seek to fulfil their aspirations for freedom, peace, and justice,” according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

He will also work to “empower Sudan’s civilian leaders and push US engagement with partners in Africa, the Middle East, and the international community to forge a united approach to stop this senseless conflict, prevent further atrocities, and promote accountability for crimes already committed.”

Washington stated that it is urgent to stop “an already dire humanitarian situation from turning into catastrophic famine” in the statement.

Prior to the assignment, US former President Barack Obama had designated Perriello as a special envoy in the African Great Lakes region in 2015. From 2009 to 2011, he was a member of the US House of Representatives as well.

In addition, Mr. Perriello has participated in numerous diplomatic missions and supported international efforts for justice in Kosovo, Darfur, and Afghanistan. Following his departure from Congress, Mr. Perriello assumed the position of CEO at the nonprofit American Progressive Action Fund. In addition, he advised the Fund on policy matters pertaining to women’s problems, immigration, voting, and guns.

His nomination as the United States’ special envoy to Sudan follows months of demands from US senators for the appointment of a senior specialist to help save Sudan from devolving further into one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes in history.

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Musings From Abroad

EU team begins 4-day working visit to Nigeria

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The inaugural four-day working tour to Nigeria by members of the Council of Europe’s Africa Working Party (COAFR) has begun in Abuja.

Scheduled to take place between February 26 and 29, 2024, the visit represents a turning point in EU-Nigeria ties as COAFR leaders interact with different stakeholders throughout the nation.

Representatives from all 27 EU member states make up COAFR, which is entrusted with directing EU foreign policy towards sub-Saharan Africa, the African Union, and other regional institutions.

According to a statement released on Sunday by the European Union in Nigeria, the party works with the Commission and the General Secretariat of the Council under the direction of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) of the European Union. It is chaired by a permanent member of the European External Action Service (EEAS).

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the National Security Advisor, and the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning are just a few of the important federal government ministries and agencies that COAFR delegates will be meeting with in Abuja. The statement went on to say that interactive meetings with the ECOWAS Commission will shed light on integration procedures and regional trends.

COAFR intends to meet with officials of the European Business Chamber (EuroCham) Nigeria, Consuls General of EU Member States, and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in Lagos.

In order to strengthen talks on strengthening the EU-Nigeria collaboration, the group will also visit EU-funded initiatives with an emphasis on digital innovation, key infrastructure, connectivity, and migration.

The statement notes that this is the group’s first-ever working trip to Nigeria and that officials from EU institutions will be joining them in addition to representatives of 17 EU Member States.

Recent high-profile visits by top EU officials to Nigeria demonstrate the EU’s increased engagement with the country and emphasise how crucial the EU-Nigeria collaboration is. The statement brought to mind that a team from the EU-Nigeria Strategic Dialogue Meeting in Abuja in October was led by EU Commissioner for International Partnership Jutta Urpilainen and her energy equivalent, Kadri Simson.

“Prior to their visit, Helena Konig, the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS), and Rita Laranjinha, the Managing Director, of Africa at the EEAS, had also been in the country.

“This followed the visits in 2022 by Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s Executive Vice President, in February, the EU and Member States Maritime Security Coordinators in April, and senior officials of the European Commission responsible for Energy and Home Affairs,” the statement reads.

To strengthen their cooperation, the EU and Nigeria decided on a more comprehensive political framework called the EU-Nigeria Joint Way Forward in 2008.

In the broader framework of the EU’s ties with the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries, the agreement sets the principles, norms, and priority areas for greater political discussion and collaboration.

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