Photo credit: Óglaigh na hÉireann

Finland’s Foreign Minister has warned that conflict in Ethiopia appears “out of control”, and could lead to a new refugee crisis for Europe.

Pekka Haavisto of Finland’s Green party, who was sent by Brussels to investigate the ongoing conflict in the Tigray region, reported his findings on Tuesday.

“You have come to the situation which is militarily and human rights-wise, humanitarian-wise very out of control,” he told journalists in Brussels this week.

“This operation has lasted more than three months, and we do not see the end.”

According to the UN, there are areas of the country where 80% of the population are cut off from help and tens of thousands have already fled to the neighbouring country of Sudan as refugees, with Sudan struggling to accommodate the new arrivals and a risk that those fleeing may spill out into new countries.

“We are seeing the beginning of one more potentially big refugee crisis in the world,” Haavisto said.

“If you don’t influence it now then the circumstances will build so that there are more and more refugees coming.”

Additionally, there are rumours that neighbouring Eritrean troops have become involved, and both the EU and the US have called on these to withdraw from the country.

The Tigray region of Ethiopia has been embroiled in violence since November of 2020, when the government claimed that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) had attacked several Ethiopian military bases. As a result, they were de-registered as a legal political party, resulting in violence and bloodshed on both sides.

The TPLF is a violent Marxist revolutionary political party which was officially classified as a terrorist organisation by the US in the 1990s, and is still considered one to this day by the Global Terror Database.

In 2010, Human Rights Watch reported that the party, while in government in Ethiopia, denied food donated from abroad in foreign aid to the Amhara ethnic group because the villagers had opposed the party politically.

Notably, current World Health Organisation Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, was a top member of the TPLF as recently as 2017.