February 22nd, 2021
Letter to Minister Gould
Regarding the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region in Ethiopia
Dear Minister Gould,
I am writing to you today regarding the humanitarian crisis taking place in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and the urgent need for Canada to respond.
It has been reported that tens of thousands of people have died since the conflict started in November and up to two million people have been internally displaced. There has also been confirmation that the hundreds of thousands of Eritrean refugees in UN refugee camps in Tigray have been targeted, with the Hitsats and the Shimelba camps being intentionally targeted and destroyed, causing approximately 10,000 Eritrean refugees to be forcibly returned to Eritrea.
Humanitarian aid is limited. There are increased reports of violence against women. Electricity and telecommunications are connected in only a limited number of cities with the majority of Tigrayans living without access to telecommunications and power. The internet remains blocked across Tigray. Banks are only operational in Mekelle.
As Ethiopia is one of the largest recipients of Canada’s international assistance, Canada has a key role to play in ensuring that vital development priorities like human rights, good governance, and gender equality are protected to ensure that the progress made to date is not lost. The Canadian government needs to ensure that the commitments, as outlined in our Feminist International Assistance Policy, are maintained and that all Canadian development and humanitarian aid is used to that end.
I urge you and the government to utilize all the options available to influence and advocate to protect the people of Ethiopia from conflict and ensure that government aid reaches those that need it most. Access for humanitarian agencies is critical as the crisis worsens. Millions of women, men, children and refugees are relying on the international community to deliver food, emergency shelter and other essential materials. I ask that you act with the urgency this humanitarian crisis demands.
Thank you for your consideration on this important topic and I look forward to receiving a response as quickly as possible.
Heather McPherson, M.P.
NDP Critic for International Development