Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, wait to receive aid at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020.

Nariman El-Mofty/The Associated Press

A group of former politicians, diplomats and academics from around the world is urging the UN Secretary-General to convene a Security Council meeting to address the dangerous situation in Ethiopia.

Fighting erupted in the Tigray region between the Ethiopian government and regional forces in early November, cutting off access to supplies to the people who live there. On Monday, the United Nations said food ran out for the nearly 100,000 refugees from Eritrea who live in camps in Tigray, and that communications and transport to the region have been severed.

The World Refugee & Migration Council sent a letter endorsed by a lengthy list of notable individuals to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Dec. 1, saying the situation in Ethiopia poses a humanitarian challenge and could become a serious threat to international peace and security with the possibility of neighbouring countries being pulled into the conflict.

Story continues below advertisement

It is endorsed by Madeleine Albright, former U.S. secretary of state; Chester A. Crocker, professor and former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs; Jakaya Kikwete, former president of Tanzania; George Papandreou, former prime minister of Greece; Susan Rice, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs and U.S. permanent representative to the UN, among many others.

“We look to you to report to the Security Council on the deteriorating humanitarian and refugee situation, which is affecting thousands of innocent civilians and underscores the importance that all sides respect the fundamental principles of humanitarian law,” the letter said.

It also calls on Mr. Guterres and the Security Council to use diplomatic channels to strengthen international support for the African Union’s (AU) mediation efforts, as well as other regional efforts to bring conflict to an end and “avoid a bloodbath in major urban centres.”

Those efforts, it continued, should focus on “an immediate cessation of hostilities,” respect for humanitarian law and ensuring there is unimpeded access to those in need of humanitarian assistance. It calls for an end to the communications blackout and a restoration of access by news media.

The letter was shared with members of the Security Council and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. It includes comments from Mr. Grandi, who said concerns are growing for civilians in Tigray – particularly near the capital Mekelle, home to 500,000 people – that there are reports of basic services coming to a halt as security deteriorates, and the number of those internally displaced is growing.

Fen Osler Hampson, president of the World Refugee & Migration Council and professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, said he hopes the letter puts pressure on the Secretary-General and members of the Security Council.

“There is an acute sense among those who are observing this crisis that we need concerted international diplomatic action and engagement because it’s no longer just an internal Ethiopia matter. It’s a threat to international peace and security and that’s reflected in the fact that you have refugees crossing the border into Sudan,” Mr. Hampson said.

Story continues below advertisement

He said the intention of the letter is to show strong support for the AU’s efforts to mediate the conflict, which have been stonewalled by the Ethiopian government, to send a message to the parties in the conflict that they need to allow aid agencies to provide support and to increase pressure for a diplomatic solution.

Last week, the UN Security Council met privately to discuss the situation in Ethiopia for the first time. The current AU chair, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, supported three high-level envoys, which the UN chief commended. However, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed refused to enter into talks involving the Tigray leaders. He met the envoys on Friday and told them his government will protect civilians in Tigray.

Mr. Hampson said Mr. Guterres has a number of tools at his disposal, including calling the Security Council members together, and creating a fact-finding commission so the international community can better understand what is happening on the ground. He said the letter urges Mr. Guterres to deploy those tools, and urges the international community to support the AU initiative.

With reports from The Associated Press.

Know what is happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary as selected by Globe editors (subscribers only). Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies