By Reinhard Jacobsen
BRUSSELS (IDN) – Representatives of non-governmental organisations and academia from all around Europe have called upon the European Union (EU) to urgently appoint senior High-level Envoys for the Horn to engage in and provide support to international, in particular African, efforts to curb the crisis in the Horn of Africa.
The appeal is addressed in a letter to the President of the EU Council Charles Michel, President of the Commission Ursula Von der Leyen, and President of the European Parliament David Sassoli.
The plea comes in the wake of the UN calling for “an immediate ceasefire of all hostilities”. According to the UN, 4,000 people a day are fleeing to Sudan from Ethiopia. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr Filippo Grandi, has called for a humanitarian corridor to reach the 96.000 refugees and internally displaced persons in refugee camps in Sudan and in Northern Ethiopia.
The UN is already preparing to receive 200,000 refugees in Sudan. An old refugee camp, that served during the 1984 famine, is “sadly” brought in use again, says the letter forwarded to the EU on November 23. The UN Secretary-General, Mr António Guterres, has stated the hope that “Ethiopia will be able to find the peace it needs for its development and the well‑being of its people.”
More than 55 signatories to the letter include Prof. Dr Mirjam van Reisen, Professor International Relations, Innovation and care, Tilburg University, The Netherlands; Greet Vanaerschot, Secretary-General, Pax Christi International; Agnes van Ardenne, former Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation and former Dutch Ambassador to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in Rome; Genoveva Tisheva, Director of the Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation, Bulgaria; and Malgorzata Tarasiewicz, Director Network of East-West Women, Poland.
The letter further points out that the crisis “rightly” has the full attention of the African continent. The Chairperson of the African Union, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, has appointed three elder statespersons as envoys – Mr Joaquim Chissano, former President of the Republic of Mozambique: Madame Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, former President of the Republic of Liberia, and Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, former President of the Republic of South Africa – as Special Envoys of the African Union. “Their efforts should be supported.”
“Unfortunately, military interventions are not the only problem in the region. After the lost harvest due to the destruction by locust swarms, food reserves are in severe jeopardy. The conflict is now contributing to an already dire situation. A new famine of most severe proportions is looming,” continues the letter available in four languages:
The letter continues: “The current crisis comes on top of the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving children out of school for six months already. It affects tens of thousands of children in precarious situations, often separated from parents and guardians.”
The signatories of the appeal flashback to mind: “Ethiopia is globally renowned for its world cultural heritage representing one of the oldest human civilisations of which Ethiopians and Africans are rightly proud.”
But now the UNESCO world heritage site in Aksum, other heritage sites and religious centres are now under threat. “This tragedy is compounded by a terrible loss of civilians, including women and children, sexual violence, mass forced displacement and a refugee crisis.”
The letter concludes: “This regional crisis in the Horn requires the immediate attention of the EU at the highest level. The EU should call on the experience of statespersons to contribute as High-level Envoys to the efforts of the African Union and the UN.”
Complete list of signatories to the letter comprises Prof. Dr Mirjam van Reisen, Professor International Relations, Innovation and care, Tilburg University, The Netherlands; Greet Vanaerschot, Secretary-General, Pax Christi International; Agnes van Ardenne, former Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation and former Dutch Ambassador to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in Rome; Genoveva Tisheva, Director of the Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation, Bulgaria; and Malgorzata Tarasiewicz, Director Network of East-West Women, Poland.
Other signatories include Juan Santos Vara, Professor of Public International Law and Jean Monnet, University of Salamanca, Spain; Prof. Dr Conny Rijken, Professor of Human Trafficking and Globalization, Tilburg University, The Netherlands; Koos Richelle, former EU Director-General European Commission, EU; Prof. Dr Rik Van de Walle, Rector of Ghent University, Belgium; Prof. Dr Luc Sels, Rector of Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven, Belgium; and Lilianne Ploumen, MP, former Minister of International Trade and Development Cooperation, The Netherlands.
Dr Gunnar Köhlin, Associate Professor and Director, Environment for Development Initiative, University of Gothenburg, Sweden; Ron Rijnbende, Edukans, The Netherlands, Simon Stocker, LDC-Watch, Klara Smits, Europe External Policy Advisors, Belgium, María Luisa Gil Payno, Economistas sin Fronteras, Spain, Ionut Sibian, Fundația pentru Dezvoltarea Societății Civile, Romania, Antonella Napoli, journalist, Italy; Prof. Dr Jan Nyssen, Department of Geography, Ghent University, Belgum; Dr Jan Nouwen, Coordinator Global Health Education, Erasmus University, The Netherlands; have also signed the letter.
The following are other signatories: Prof. Dr Augusto Montixi, University of Cagliari, Italy; Dr Violeta Moreno-Lax, Queen Mary University of London, UK; Dr Réginald Moreels, Humanitarian surgeon and former minister for development cooperation Belgium; Paddy Maguinness, Europe External Programme with Africa, Ireland; Jens Martens, Global Policy Forum Europe, Germany; Stig Lundberg, Consultant Religious Affairs, Sweden; Benoit Lannoo, Consultant International & Interreligious Cooperation, Belgium;
Jasper Kuipers, Director Dokters van de Wereld, The Netherlands; Florence Keller, Referente for platforme Citoyenne, Namur and Luxembourg regions, Belgium; Mehdi Kassou, Président de la Plate-forme citoyenne de soutien aux Réfugiés, Belgium; Susanna Henriksén, Act Church of Sweden, Sweden; Rudi Friedrich, Director of Connection e.V., Germany; William Grech, KOPIN Supporting Refugees in Malta, Malta; Valerio Giaccoia, journalist, Italy; Pierre Galand, Former Senator, Human Rights activist, Belgium;
Mark Eyskens, Minister of State, Former Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of International Cooperation, Belgium; Anne Catherine de Neve, Referee Antenne Plate-forme Citoyenne de soutien aux Réfugiés for Brabant Wallon, Belgium; Prof. Ronald de Jong, Professor of Practice, Tilburg University, The Netherlands; Halle Jorn Hanssen, Writer and former secretary General Norwegian Peoples Aid, Norway; Dr Daria Davitti, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Lund University, Sweden; Allan Bussard, Director, Integra Foundation, Slovakia; Prof. Dr Frans Bongers, Professor Tropical Forest Ecology, Environmental Sciences Group, Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands;
Roberto Bissio, Social Watch; Dr Andrés Bautista-Hernáez, Professor of Public International Law, University of Málaga, Spain; Dr Martin Barber, Chair, United Against Inhumanity (UAI), UK; Iliana Balabanova, President, Bulgarian Platform European Women’s Lobby, Bulgaria
Africa ExPress.info, Italy; Laura Albu, President, Romanian Women’s Lobby, Vice-President of the European Women’s Lobby, Romania; Prof. Dr Bas Arts, Universiteit van Wageningen, The Netherlands; Sara Arapiles, Nottingham University, UK; Matyas Benyik, Attac, Hungary; Kees Zevenbergen, Director CORDAID, The Netherlands;
Ian White, Changing Perspectives, Ireland; Prof. Dr Lindsay Whitfield, Chair in Global Studies, Project Coordinator Decent Work and GVC-based Industrialization in Ethiopia, Roskilde University, Denmark; Prof. Dr Fulvio Vassallo, Avvocato e Vicepresidente A-DIF, Emeritus University of Palermo, Italy;
Herman Van Goethem, Rector, University of Antwerpen, Belgium; Seppe Deckers, University of Ghent, Belgium; Pino Schirripa, Universita di Roma, Italy; Eloi Ficquet, Ecole des hautes études en science sociales, Paris; Pablo Billi, University of Ferrara, Italy; Dr Miguelle Benrubi, Liege, Belgium; and Dr André Crismer, medical doctor, Belgium.