DATED AND ISSUED ON THE 21ST DAY OF MARCH 2021
CIVIL SOCIETY REFERENCE GROUP CALLS ON THE GOVERNMENT OF KENYA TO MAKE FULL USE OF ITS CURRENT POSITIONS AS CHAIR OF THE AFRICAN UNION PEACE AND SECURITY COUNCIL, THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY AND NON-PERMANENT MEMBERSHIP OF UN SECURITY COUNCIL TO MOBILIZE SUPPORT AND INTERVENE IN THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF ETHIOPIA AND THE TIGRAY PEOPLE’S LIBERATION FRONT
The Civil Society Reference Groups (CSRG) calls on H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta to utilize Kenya’s current positions as the Chairperson of the Peace and Security of the African Union, the East African Community and non-permanent member of the UN Peace and Security Council to mobilize support across the region and the world and intervene in the raging conflict between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and its State of Tigray that has been ongoing since November 2020.
It does not always happen that a country finds herself occupying such an advantageous position as Kenya in the geopolitical landscape yet Kenya is yet to flex her muscle and be seen to be intervening in the crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray that has now sucked in neighbouring Eritrea and Sudan.
Like the internal war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in which neighbouring countries like Uganda and Rwanda found themselves drawn into, what started as internal conflict in the Tigray State between the regional Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Federal Government of Ethiopia seems to have already drawn in Eritrea, with the Sudan also steadily staking a claim in a disputed border point with Ethiopia.
Already, the conflict has led to loss of life and limb, with thousands displaced and social amenities like schools and hospitals reportedly vandalized and rendered derelict.
The war is also incurring its toll on Kenya. With the Federal Government of Ethiopia distracted by the conflict, and unable to sustain its watch over the Al-Shabaab as one of the countries that contributed soldiers to AMISOM, Kenya is likely to experience more incursions of the ragtag militia group along its shared border with Somalia.
Persistent migration of swarms of locusts to Kenya from Ethiopia is another indication that the Federal Government of Ethiopia could be paying too much attention to the internal conflict with the Tigray State at the expense of investing in joint efforts to eradicate the plague.
Had Ethiopia been doing its part to interrupt the life cycle of the locusts, the outbreak in Kenya would not have been as voracious and persistent as it seems to be. But because the country is distracted by the internal conflict, Kenya will continue to experience persistent waves of locust invasion.
The threat of the worst ever locust invasion in 70 years to peace and security in Kenya and indeed the entire East and Horn of Africa Region is already being felt in the internecine conflicts over grazing land and water between Isiolo and Wajir and other neighbouring counties of Marsabit, Mandera and Garissa.
The situation has been exacerbated by the effects of climate change that has made weather patterns so unpredictable for the pastoralist communities that unless the conflict in Tigray is stopped and all the countries affected by the menace pay undivided attention to the plague, the ensuing drought and famine will not only decimate livestock as the primary source of livelihood for local communities but become a threat to human life as well.
The humanitarian and human rights crisis that the conflict in the Tigray region continues to cause is unacceptable, and those charged with leadership positions and the responsibility to address them like Kenya can no longer pander to the outdated policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of a member State to the African Union.
Addis Ababa is the seat of the African Union, and as such owes it to Africa to lead by example and avoid fanning conflict with such humanitarian consequences and human rights violations as reports from the conflict seem to show.
As an umbrella organization of local, national and international civil society formations in Kenya that believes in and champions for the right to freedoms of association, assembly and expression, the CSRG, therefore, calls on Kenya to rise up to the occasion based on its positions of responsibility in the East African region, in Africa and globally at the UN Peace and Security Council and not only intervene but be seen to be intervening in the conflict pitting the Federal Government of Ethiopia and its Tigray State.
Everything that ought to be done to stop the conflict in Tigray, including the possibility of imposing sanctions on the two warring parties so that they do not continue to access the arms being used to main in the military combat, killing in the process innocent civilians.
Civil Society Reference Group