UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: Himself Part of the Problem?
Source: Globe News Net
October 29, 2021
In 2018, Fasil Yenealem, a paid and diaspora-based propagandist working with ESAT- a media which as early as in 2016 called for the extermination of Tigrayans, wrote that he used Ana Gomes to get to Mr. Antonio Guterres. Mr. Fasil, in the article in Amharicon July 9, 2018, said that he met Mr. Antonio Guterres through Mrs. Gomes and he found Mr. Guterres “to be well aware of our(Ginbot-7’s) movement (Ginbot-7 was by then designated by Ethiopia’s parliament a ‘terrorist organization’) thanks to Ana Gomes’.’ Mrs. Ana Gomes has remained a polarizing partisan political activist in Ethiopian politics since 2005.
Fasil in his article added that Mr. Guterres promised him that “he will continue to support Ginbot-7’s struggle”. Ana Gomes was Portugal’s socialist party comrade to Mr. Antonio Guterres and an insider to Ethiopia’s opposition politics since 2005.
ESAT, today, is a major propaganda machine for Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Mr. Abiy Ahmed.
According to sources in UN, after the Abiy-led Prosperity Party was established early December 2019, Mr. Guterres wrote to several UN agencies in Nairobi, Addis Ababa, and Geneva, requesting to “offer unconditional political support to the new Abiy-led ruling party in Ethiopia.” Most of them were shocked to hear this from the SG. According to the sources, two UN agencies based in Nairobi responded “we don’t have this kind of mandate”.
Other Sources from UN informed me last August that they met Mrs. Bachelet, UN Human Rights Commission Higher Commissioner, and asked her why she accepted a preemptive call by the Ethiopian government for ajoint investigation with its body “Ethiopian Human Rights Commission”, she said ‘there was tremendous pressure from various parties including from people that I couldn’t say no.” What we can understand from her response is that the pressure came almost certainly from her boss, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The Secretary-general did this when the international community called for an independent investigation into the atrocities in Tigray.
By doing so, Secretary Guterres legitimized the government-appointed commission, killed the call call(and closed the door) for independent investigations into the atrocities in Tigray. There are also reports Mr. Guterres requested some European countries to give some kind of award to Ethiopian Human Rights Commission to consolidate its legitimacy. Germany’s irresponsible award to Daniel Bekelle can’t be a coincidence.
A starvation Crime the Secretary-General Doesn’t Seem to Give ‘a Shit’?
In what is deliberate deprivation of the civilian population in Tigray of all means of farming, Eritrean and Ethiopian troops explored every village in Tigray, slaughtered farm animals, especially oxen essential for plaughing; they slaughter more than they can eat, killing the animals as punishment. Eritrean soldiers even killed newborn chicks with the soles of their feet. While Eritrean troops took most of the donkeys in Tigray to Eritrea, Ethiopian troops shoot them; donkeys are essential means of transportation in Tigray.
Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers also destroyed irrigation canals and small dams; they destroyed all irrigation materials, including yolks and scissors, mills, baking pans a.k.a ‘Mogogo’. They burnt crops, either looted or burnt foodstuff in a house-to-house search; they uprooted newly planted trees. In a video that widely circulated on Social media, Eritrean soldiers were seen cutting mango trees in the Rama area of Tigray . Both Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers set bushes on fire; they deliberately set fire to a forest in Sheraro and Atsbi areas. The entire sesame, sorghum and maize production in vast land of Western Tigray was taken by the Eritrean army and Amhara forces to Asmara and/or Gonder.
As part of the well-planned scorched-earth policy, Ethiopian federal forces and Eritrean troops have targeted Tigray’s economy for comprehensive destruction. The Almeda textile factory in Adwa employed about 8,000 workers until a year ago; the Eritrean forces took everything they could load onto trucks and then the rest was destroyed with explosives, mortars, and artillery. A pharmaceutical factory in Adigrat, a leather factory, a glass factory, Mesfin Industrial Engineering, a Mining Factory, a Marble factory, numerous textile factories e.t.c, employing more than 80,000 people in Tigray, were deliberately destroyed. Much of the machinery was taken by the Eritrean army to Asmara.
In areas where Eritrean army control, the soldiers broke into private households, and took everything, every household item that they could take. A division of 6000- 8000 men, aka “division 524”, was dispatched to Tigray to do this job.
Ethiopian soldiers on their part search households and took every penny, and precious portable items that they could take; they were depositing it in Ethiopian Commercial Bank, and Ethiopian officials were aware of it. It was a deliberate, states-led act of impoverishing households in Tigray.
The destruction of civilian structures like health facilities, water systems, schools is a well-documented fact. MSF documented that nearly 70 % had been looted and more than 30 % had been damaged; just 13 percent were functioning normally. Similarly, according to information from Tigray Education Bureau, close to 7000 schools in Tigray have been vandalized and destroyed.
Warnings of famine in Tigray had been given as early as mid-November 2020.
Hunger-related deaths in Tigrayhave been reported since January 2021. The Interim Administration’s Bureau of Social Affairs reported that 10 people in Gulomahda Woreda and three children in Adwa town have died due to lack of food and access to aid. Experts, Humanitarian organizations, human rights organizations, intergovernmental organizations(like UN agencies, EU), and numerous state governments including the USA, UK, Ireland e.t.c never ceased to warn that man-made hunger looms in Tigray throughout the conflict.
Early June, UN emergency relief coordinator Mark Lowcock said “There’s famine now in Tigray“. His statement at a roundtable discussion ahead of the G7 summit showed that the UN-backed Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) estimated that 353,000 people in Tigray were in phase 5 (catastrophe) and a further 1.8 million are in phase 4 (emergency).
On August 8, just two months after the UN declared that “famine-conditions” were affecting 350,000 people in Tigray and just and one month after USAID declared 900,0000 Tigrayans were facing famine – the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) published its food security outlook for Tigray. The report shows that there are people throughout the region identified as in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5, i.e. famine). An estimated 5.2 million people are now critically food insecure and require sustained life-saving assistance to prevent them from falling into famine.
At the end of June, the Ethiopian government imposed a total land and aerial blockade on Tigray. Since then, according to USAID, only 10 percent of the necessary relief assistance required is being allowed entry to the region.
Mr. Grant Leaity, former Un Acting Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia, in a statement he issued on September 2, 2021, said, “With the inability to bring in sufficient and sustained levels of humanitarian supplies, cash, and fuel, the humanitarian situation in the North of Ethiopia is set to worsen dramatically, particularly in Tigray region.”
He disclosed that an estimated 5.2 million people (90 %of Tigray’s population) need urgent humanitarian assistance, including 400,000 people already facing famine-like conditions.He added “Food stocks already ran out on 20 August. A minimum of 100 trucks of food, non-food items, and fuel must enter Tigray every day to sustain an adequate response. To date, and since 12 July, only 335 trucks have entered the region (9 % of the required 3,900 trucks). Not one single truck has entered the Tigray region since 22 August.”
End of July, UNICEF announcedthat it estimates that “over 100,000 children in Tigray could suffer from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in the next 12 months – a tenfold increase compared to the average annual caseload”.
The spokesperson of the U.S. State Department Ned Price in early September said “The situation on the ground has gotten worse since then…the truth is that access has been limited to but a trickle by the government of Ethiopia. Warehouses sit empty in Tigray because the government has put a stranglehold around the region’.
In a statement on September 21, OCHA Ethiopia said “The de facto blockade on the Tigray region has significantly restricted humanitarian operations due to restricted movements of aid supplies, fuel, and cash”, adding “Across all sectors, operational capacity has been severely reduced and critical activities suspended. Food stocks ran out on 20 August. Health partners have suspended programs to deliver emergency health kits and vaccinate vulnerable communities against cholera, measles, and polio”
In another statement on September 30, OCHA Ethiopia said “Since 12 July, 606 trucks or 11 % of the trucks needed have reached Tigray. Humanitarian partners estimate that 100 trucks with food, non-food items, and fuel must enter Tigray every day to meet the needs on the ground.
According to WFP,Of the more than 15,000 pregnant and lactating women screened during the reporting period, more than 12,000 women( 79 %), were diagnosed with acute malnutrition. MAM level among children under five years is also exceeding the global emergency threshold of 15 %, at about 18 percent, while cases of children with severe malnutrition are 2.4 %, above the alarming 2 % level.
The crisis in Tigray’s region in Ethiopia is a “stain on our conscience,” the United Nations humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths on September 29, 2021. Just 10% of needed humanitarian supplies have been reaching Tigray in recent weeks, Mr. Griffiths said. “So people have been eating roots and flowers and plants instead of a normal steady meal,” he said. “The lack of food will mean that people will start to die.”
September 3, 2021, the African Union urged Ethiopia’s government to step up efforts to ensure humanitarian access to the war-torn Tigray region to prevent starvation, as aid workers struggle to reach populations in despair.
Tigray now is completely sieged; the EU has declared a siege on Tigray two months back. The siege on Tigray has continued. EU commission announced on October 5 that close to a million people in Tigray are in famine condition. The EU Commissioner for international partnerships called for a concerted global response.
Speaking at the G7 roundtable in the UK on June 10, U.S. Special Envoy Jeff Feltman warned, we “should not wait to count the graves” before declaring the crisis in Tigray what it is: a famine. That was a warning.
Despite that, the government of Ethiopia has continued to deny the presence of hunger in Tigray.
In early September, the Tigray State government announced that at least 150 people in Tigray have been starved to death in August alone.
Mid September, Associated Press published the first pictures of the starving in Tigray in the famine of 2021. The pictures are all from Mekelle, many from Ayder Referral Hospital in the city, where Tigrayan doctors and aid workers are trying to save the lives of severely malnourished children without outside help.
Telecommunications, electricity, and banking services have again been cut off to Tigray since the elected government of Tigray retook much of the region in June.
Tigray leader Dr. Debretsion Gebremichael in a letter dated Sept. 3, sent to more than 50 heads of state and government and multilateral organizations called for pressure on the government of Ethiopia for the “immediate and unconditional lifting of the siege on Tigray”.
Jan Egeland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), on February 01, 2021, said “In all my years as an aid worker, I have rarely seen a humanitarian response so impeded and unable to deliver in response for so long, to so many with such pressing needs. As an international community, we are clearly failing to deliver against the humanitarian imperative we are facing.”
Days after the UN chief warned that ‘Tigray is descending to famine’, Ethiopia expelled 7 UN higher officials, including UN Humanitarian-Ethiopia Chief Grant Leaity. This must be a clear sign of Ethiopia’s commitment to starve the entire population in Tigray to death.
In a blatant act of further blocking humanitarian aid delivery to Tigray, Ethiopia’s government struck the city of Mekelle and vicinities with fighter jets while a U.N. plane with 11 staff and humanitarian aid which was cleared by the Ethiopian government to fly, was 5 minutes from landing at the airport in Mekelle, forcing the UN plane to return to Addis Ababa. The UN has suspended all flights to Tigray, as a result. What was already meager aid to Tigray has been diminished to near nil over the past days.
Last month, a senior United Nations official declared that Tigray was the world’s worst faminesince 250,000 people died in Somalia a decade ago.
The prime minister’s advisor, Deacon Daniel Kibret has said “they should be the last of their kind; they shall not be repeated… that future researcher studying the TPLF “shouldn’t find anything about them, except after digging the ground.”
Pekka Haavisto, Finland’s foreign minister, and European Union special envoy to Ethiopia said that in his talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and other ministers in February, the Ethiopian leadership said that they were “going to wipe out, destroy the Tigrayans for 100 years”.
Alex de Waal, Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation and one of the foremost experts on the Horn of Africa, wrote “Famine is probably occurring already and without doubt, in the coming months Tigrayans will be starving on a scale rarely witnessed in the modern world. Except that, because the Ethiopian government prefers to keep Tigray in darkness, few outsiders will be there to witness it. We may later get to count the graves of the children who perished.”
On May 24, 2018, UN Security Council anonymously adopted Resolution 2417. The resolution condemns starving civilians, unlawfully denying humanitarian access as warfare Tactics. The resolution calls on all parties to armed conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law regarding the protection of civilians and on taking care to spare civilian objects, stressing that armed conflicts, violations of international law, and related food insecurity could be drivers of forced displacement.
The resolution strongly condemned the unlawful denial of such access and depriving civilians of objects indispensable to their survival — including willfully impeding relief supply and access for responses to conflict‑induced food insecurity.
Resolution 2417 empowers the UN to impose sanctions on individuals and entities that obstruct humanitarian operations and warns that the use of starvation as a weapon of war may be a war crime.
Article 12 of the resolution reads:
“Requests the Secretary‑General to report swiftly to the Council when the risk of conflict‑induced famine and widespread food insecurity in armed conflict contexts occurs and expresses its intention to give its full attention to such information provided by the Secretary‑General when those situations are brought to its attention”
Additionally, in 2019 there was an amendment to the Rome statute of the international criminal court, outlawing starvation as a war crime in civil conflicts.
“On current performance, Tigray is set to join the catalog of genocides and crimes against humanity in which the world failed to act on warnings and responded with hand wringing only after the event”, Alex De Waal argues. This is also shared by many experts in the field.
On October 6, 2021, I asked “Will Antonio Guterres be on the right side of history and invoke Resolution 2417?” on the UN Security Council meeting convened the same day following the expulsion of 7 UN officials. Unfortunately, the Secretary-General wouldn’t say a word on Ethiopia’s systematic use of hanger as a weapon of war and didn’t try to bring the hunger crime to the table; he rather made the discussion to limit itself to the expulsion of the officials, leaving the primary hunger crime off the table.
Simon Marks, a journalist who focuses on East African issues and a reporter to the New York Times, BBC, Politico, NatGeo, reported on October 19, that Ethiopia’s PMAbiy Ahmed told U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that he is not going to ease up humanitarian access for the U.N. Ethiopia’s determination to starve the population Tigray to death can’t be doubted for.
Eleven months after the first warnings of conflict-related food insecurity were sounded; inspite of the bulk of evidences regarding Ethiopia’s deliberate use of hunger as weapon of war; and the PM telling him right in face that he is not going to ease the blockade and that he will continue to use hunger as weapon of war; the Secretary-general remains reluctant to declare the deliberate starvation of Tigray “war crime”, and present the starvation crime to the UN Security Council as per Article 12 of Resolution 2417.
October 23, 1984, a BBC news crew was the first to document the famine, with Michael Buerk describing “a biblical famine in the 20th century” and “the closest thing to hell on Earth”. The report shocked Britain, motivating its citizens to support relief agencies such as Save the Children; it also helped bring the world’s attention to the crisis in Ethiopia.
Berhan Woldu, who was discovered in a CBC documentary film crew the same year, caught international attention and became the iconic symbol that rallied the world to address the 1984—1985 Ethiopian Famine. In November 1984, the British Royal Air Force carried out the first airdrops from Hercules C-130s delivering food to the starving people. Other countries including Sweden, East Germany, West Germany, Poland, Canada, the United States, and the Soviet Union were also involved in the international response.
Today, the world has seen thousands of pictures of Birhan-like emaciated children, deliberately starved by the governments of Ethiopia, Eritrea and Amhara; and yet, that couldn’t move the international community for robust action.
This is not because the international community today has less empathy than it had 40 years back, or owns less machinery to press on the governments who wield hunger as a weapon of war to change their courses than in 1984; rather, it is because the UN choose to fail Tigray. In fact, the UN leadership appears to have chosen to be complicit with the criminals in Addis Ababa.
UN Secretary-General Mr. Antonio-Guterres stands accused of four major failures and/or complicity with criminals in Addis Ababa;
- Failure to declare “famine” in Tigray on time;
- Failure to declare the ongoing starvation crime “war crime”;
- Failure to present the hunger crime to the UN security council;
- What appears to be a collusion with Ethiopian officials that ended up involving the government-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission in the investigations in Tigray, and creating a fertile ground for Ethiopian authorities to manipulate(corrupt) the investigation, evade accountability, and shift blame.
Unless the Secretary-General takes swift and timely corrective measures to fix these major issues, Tigrayans and the rational world with good understanding of the genocide on Tigray will not have any other option but to consider him being big part of the problem(genocide crime on Tigrayans). This of course, should start by discarding the EHRC-led, non-impartial and dishonest “investigation” and let the UN independently do it all over again. Declaring the starvation crime(war crime) and presenting it to the UN Security council for decision can be simultaneously done.