Norwegian Nobel Committee, which awards the Nobel Peace Prize, on Thursday appealed to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to stop the conflict in the country’s northern region of Tigray.
Ahmed, who won the award in 2019, bore special responsibility for bringing to an end the fighting that broke out in late 2020, the committee said in a rare critique of a former laureate.
Generally, the Nobel committee does not comment on the actions of prize winners after they have received the award. There has been an exception in Abiy, as the committee has expressed “deep concern” about the conflict.
Millions of people have been displaced and thousands have been killed in Africa’s second most populous nation, with many facing famine-like conditions. The United Nations has accused the government of obstructing humanitarian aid from reaching the region, an accusation the government denies.
In the past week, airstrikes killed at least 73 civilians in Tigray, aid workers said.
“The humanitarian situation is dire and it’s unacceptable that humanitarian aid is not getting through in a sufficient manner,” Nobel committee Chair Berit Reiss-Andersen said in a statement.
“As prime minister and peace prize laureate Abiy Ahmed has a special responsibility to end the conflict and contribute to making peace.”
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Abiy a year after he took office for resolving two decades of hostility with Eritrea – a former ally of the TPLF, which dominated Ethiopia’s government until Abiy was elected.
The current conflict is blamed on both sides. The TPLF claims that Abiy is trying to centralize power at the expense of the regions, a claim Abiy denies, while the TPLF says Abiy wants to return to national authority, an accusation Abiy also denies.
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