The conflict in Tigray has sparked calls to deprive Abiy of the Nobel Prize, but this is not possible under the award’s statutes.
The panel awarding the Nobel Peace Prize said Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, who had won the honor in 2019, had a “special responsibility” to end the ongoing bloodshed in the Tigray region.
“As Prime Minister and winner of the Peace Prize, Abiy Ahmed has a special responsibility to end the conflict and contribute to peace,” Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said on Thursday.
Northern Ethiopia has been plagued by conflict since November 2020 when Abiy sent troops to Tigray after accusing the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), of attacks on federal army camps.
The fighting between forces loyal to Abiy and the TPLF and their allies killed thousands of people and forced several millions out of their homes.
Tigray is among what the United Nations calls a de facto blockade it prevents life-saving medicines and foods from reaching millions, including hundreds of thousands in famine-stricken conditions.
“The humanitarian situation is very serious and it is not acceptable that humanitarian aid does not come through adequately,” Reiss-Andersen said.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, during a press conference called on countries to press Abiy to allow aid.
“The big threat there is the Ethiopian government’s blockade of humanitarian aid that is badly needed by millions of people in the region,” Roth said.
“This is a classic case of collective punishment. It does not punish Tigrayan military forces. It punishes the people T in Tigray, ”he added.
The conflict in Tigray has sparked calls to strip Abiy of the Nobel, but that is not possible under the award’s statutes.
The Norwegian committee said it could not comment on what factors were emphasized when the prize was awarded to Abiy, other than “the reasons given in connection with the award”, as the panel’s discussions were confidential.
Abiy’s prize “was awarded on the basis of his efforts and the legitimate expectations that existed in 2019”, said Reiss-Andersen.
“The peace initiatives launched by Abiy Ahmed for which he received the Nobel Prize were based on his contribution to the peace agreement with Eritrea and his comprehensive political initiative for democracy and the development of civil rights,” she added.