By Cecilia Ologunagba
UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday commended Nigeria’s former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, for his role to restore peace in the troubled Ethiopia.
Guterres, in a statement by his spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, said the UN top official was delighted to learn that “a demonstrable effort to make peace” in Ethiopia was finally underway.
According to the statement, Guterres spoke on the phone with Obasanjo, the African Union High Representative for the Horn of Africa on the situation in the country.
Dujarric said that Guterres exchanged views with Obasanjo on the conflict that had affected millions of people across the country and the rest of the region, since fighting began in Tigray, in November 2020.
During the conversation, Obasanjo briefed the secretary-general about his latest visit to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and the capital of the regional state of Tigray, Mekelle.
The former Nigerian president told Guterres about the efforts being made by the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) to move towards a resolution of the violent conflict.
Obasanjo also “expressed optimism that there is now a real opportunity for political and diplomatic resolution of the conflict.”
In spite of this optimism, the UN chief believed ongoing military operations “remain a challenge to the peace process and sour the confidence building measures that we hope are being taken by all parties in the conflict.”
He also reiterated his call on all parties to rapidly end hostilities as a step in the right direction for peace-making.
“The United Nations stands ready to support an all-inclusive and nationally owned dialogue, peace, security, and reconciliation process in Ethiopia,” Duajarric quoted Guterres as saying.
According to the UN chief, the international community must continue to emphasise the need for all parties to demonstrate sincerity and commitment to the peace process.
It has now been 14 months since clashes first erupted between Federal Government troops and forces loyal to the TPLF.
Amidst allegations of widespread human rights abuses, thousands are feared killed as more than two million have been forced to flee their homes.
Over the past few months, killings, looting and destruction of health centres and farming infrastructure, including irrigation systems that are vital to production have caused humanitarian needs to surge.
The secretary-general called again on all actors in the conflict to support and facilitate local and international efforts to provide humanitarian aid.
“While we observe the AU-led peace process with great hope, we remain concerned about the humanitarian situation in various parts of Ethiopia affected by the war,” he said. (NAN)