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Diplomats: UN Security Council to Meet Thursday on Ethiopia's Tigray

FILE - People stand at the doors of houses that were damaged by shelling in the town of Mehoni, in Southern Tigray, Ethiopia, Dec. 11, 2020.
FILE - People stand at the doors of houses that were damaged by shelling in the town of Mehoni, in Southern Tigray, Ethiopia, Dec. 11, 2020.

The U.N. Security Council will meet Thursday to discuss the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia's Tigray region, diplomats told AFP Tuesday.

The meeting, requested by Ireland, will be held behind closed doors at midday and is not guaranteed to lead to the adoption of a joint statement, the diplomats said.

The Council's last meeting on Tigray was held February 2 to call for more humanitarian access. African Council members, however, had rejected in advance the idea of a joint text.

Several other Council members joined Ireland's request for a meeting, one diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity. Estonia, France, Norway, Britain and the United States also called Tuesday for an international investigation into reported atrocities committed in Tigray.

Since the launch in early November of an Ethiopian military operation in Tigray, the Security Council has held few meetings on the issue, undermined by divisions between African members — who see it as an internal matter — and Western members, for whom the humanitarian situation and influx of refugees in neighboring countries require the involvement of the body charged with world peace and security.

An initial closed-door meeting was held on November 24, and a second closed-door session came on December 14 ahead of the February 2 meeting. Neither produced a joint declaration.

The U.N. announced it had reached several agreements with the Ethiopian authorities guaranteeing in principle full access to the entire country. These agreements have yet to be realized.

On Tuesday, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that "authorizations for needs assessments missions are still pending with the authorities."

"Hundreds of thousands of people affected (by fighting) have not been reached, particularly in the rural areas of Tigray," he said during his daily press briefing.

"More than 80 aid workers have received clearances to go to Tigray, but the permits are for short missions," he said.

"Despite the challenges, humanitarians on the ground are working to increase the response, with some progress made, especially on food assistance in the main cities."

NGOs have called since the start of 2021 for the Security Council to hold a public session followed by a resolution calling for an end to the obstruction of aid and an immediate investigation into alleged war crimes committed in Ethiopia's dissident region.