Press Statement: On Facts and Concoctions in the Tigray Region (May 23, 2021)

Ethiopia is nearing six months into the conflict in Tigray—civil unrest provoked by a criminal act against the State. It was an insurrection to challenge the territorial integrity of our nation. And we fought back.

The cost has been high for Ethiopia, and most especially, for the people of Tigray. Lives have been lost and livelihoods destroyed. Thousands will spend the rest of their lives with the physical and emotional traumas of the conflict. We mourn with our brothers and sisters.

During the past several weeks, the government, through its institutional bodies, has taken decisive actions to de-escalate the conflict, address the humanitarian suffering, and look towards national healing, and the rebuilding of the shattered lives and infrastructure in the Tigray region.

We have opened humanitarian corridors, provided food, medicines and other urgent assistance, assured security for humanitarian personnel, extended work visas for international workers, made available telecommunications infrastructure, most recently opened air corridors and established a joint committee comprised of government, academic, religious leaders and business community members that can mobilize local support for displaced persons. All the while advancing national reforms and maintaining our focus on the future of our great nation.

We realize that disruptions continue to take place, and humanitarian workers themselves have been caught in the crossfire. We are dedicated to eradicating all of the obstacles to relief. We remain grateful for the generous support of our international partners and recognize first and foremost that it is our responsibility to address the suffering in Tigray.

The federal government is committed to holding accountable those who have committed crimes against the people of Tigray, no matter who they are. Last week, the Attorney General announced the results of an internal investigation within the Ethiopian National Defense Force, charging those who have committed abuses against the civilian population.

We respect the role of the media, domestic and international. In an inaccessible region of conflict, the media is left to report on anecdotes that become the narrative of the nation and the lens by which people are judged and international action is taken. Reports are then spun up by social media, feeding its own frenzy.

We are aware that this is often a deliberate tactic, carried out by those who see grievance and anger as their mobilizing principles. Most recently, it has come to our attention that a prominent international publication will publish a report in the coming days alleging the use of chemical weapons against the people of Tigray. The charge is malicious and beyond irresponsible. It seeks to further inflame and divide the nation, particularly as it moves towards national elections. The world is forewarned.

The government will not let the space for peace, dialogue, and national reconciliation be closed by provocateurs, be they domestic or foreign.

We will continue to do right by our citizens, build our democratic and economic institutions and carry out our transformative reform agenda.

Spokesperson Office

23 May 2021

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