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Open Letter to H.E. Antonio Guterres

November 22, 2020


H.E. António Guterres

Secretary-General of the United Nations

New York, United States of America

Re: Request for a Resolution on the Looming Catastrophic Humanitarian Crisis in Ethiopia

Dear Secretary General:

Greetings to you from the Ethiopian Canadians in Canada and thank you for your call for humanitarian corridors on November 20, 2020 to the Ethiopian government to prevent a humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia. As it is known to Your Excellency and to your respected office, the prime minister of Ethiopia declared a bellicose war on the people of Tigray during the time of the COVID pandemic and the worst desert locust invasion in a generation, when there were plenty of chances to settle political disputes at the negotiation table. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed chose the path of force, which has already killed thousands in the country and has a potential to spread into the rest of the Horn of Africa, creating catastrophic humanitarian crisis and potentially risking world peace.  

Your Excellency:

Since the war erupted on November 4, 2020, thousands of Ethiopians have fled into Sudan while atrocities against hundreds of civilians have been committed by forces loyal to the Amhara region so as to politically benefit Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Civilians and civilian targets including churches and universities have been mercilessly bombed by the Ethiopian Air Force with possible involvement of other nations including Eritrea and the United Arab Emirates.

Your Excellency:

Given your position and the information you receive as the head of the organization of the world’s nations, we cannot even pretend to educate you how dangerous this war is quickly becoming to the Horn of Africa. Millions of civilians who will be either killed, maimed or exiled because of a senseless war is the most disturbing scenario if this war is not averted immediately.

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Your Excellency: 

As it is known to the UN, the government of Ethiopia has shut down all means of communication, including telephone services and the internet in order to completely isolate the people of Tigiray. National roads that connect to Tigiray have been blockaded as collective punishment thus exposing millions of people to starvation and denying them access to medicine and other humanitarian assistance. Such brutal tactics to subdue the people were tried during the 1985 famine but only resulted in a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in which an estimated 1 million people perished due to starvation.

Your Excellency: 

People of Tigirayan descent are also being targeted for racial profiling in other areas of Ethiopia. Thousands have been relieved from their jobs and many have been arrested for no known reason. Daily harassments of Tigirayans include searches without a search warrant and freezing of bank accounts. Genocide is looming over Ethiopia and the world may soon witness another Rwanda, if no action is taken sooner rather than later.

In order to avoid a catstrophic humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia and in the wider Horn of Africa, we respectfully request Your Excellency to use your respected position as the Secretary-General to press on the Ethiopian government to:

1.   Immediately stop the indiscriminate aerial bombardment of cities, residential areas, and civil infrastructure in Tigray;

Rule 156 on the definition of War crime, Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) explains that:

“Broadly speaking, “war crimes” include all violations of International Law in relation to an armed conflict for which individuals may be prosecuted and punished, including crimes against peace, crimes against humanity and genocide. In the narrow, technical sense “war crimes” are violations of the laws and customs of war.”

The manual further states:

The term “war crime” in its narrower meaning is a technical expression for a violation of the laws or customs of war. This includes:

a. grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions or Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions.

b. violations of the Hague Conventions; and

c. violations of the customs of war.

2.   Immediately stop allowing external forces to attack civilian areas from behind the border in Eritrea;

3.   Immediately stop the illegal isolation and alienation of the people of Tigray from having access to basic human needs and to create a humanitarian corridor, to send food, medications and other vital humanitarian aid to Tigray region, by clearly stating that not complying with such rules could lead to prosecution of the high ranking government officials on war crime, at the ICC;

4.   Immediately restore budgetary support and all forms of services thus avoiding the violation of human rights and collective punishment of the people. The government must understand that collective punishment in order to subdue the population is criminal;

5.   Immediately start negotiations and avoid the use of force to resolve all political differences with the local government of Tigray and all other political forces in Ethiopia; and

6.   Immediately allow credible international agencies to conduct independent investigation into all allegations of war crimes.

Your Excellency: 

The whole world looks up to you for direction and courage. Due to the millions of lives at risk, we sincerely believe that this is a task which deserves your immediate attention and intervention before the situation goes out of control. It is also our belief that you are disgusted by the cruelty of the government of Abiy Ahmed and by what it is doing to its own people, which risks destabilizing the Horn of Africa.

On behalf of the Ethiopian peoples, we would like to thank you in advance for considering the looming catastrophic humanitarian crisis and its risks to global security.

Sincerely yours,


The Executive Committee

Ethiopian Canadians for Peace

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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