United Nations flag waving in the wind

Letter to the UN Secretary-General on the Situation in Ethiopia

World Refugee & Migration Council members and others call on the UN Secretary-General to convene an extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council.

His Excellency Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres

Dear Secretary-General,

We the undersigned appeal to you to convene an extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council pursuant to Article 99 of the Charter of the United Nations to address the dangerous and worsening situation on the ground in Ethiopia. 

The evolving situation both poses a humanitarian challenge and risks becoming a serious threat to international peace and security with the prospect that Ethiopia’s neighbors may be drawn into the conflict. 

As the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has noted, 

“Concerns are growing for the safety of civilians inside the Tigray region of Ethiopia, particularly in and around the capital Mekelle that is home to 500,000 people. There are reports of basic services coming to a halt while the security situation continues to deteriorate. It is feared the numbers of those internally displaced inside Tigray by the fighting as well as to other regions of Ethiopia is growing daily. Access remains a major constraint in the Tigray region.”

We look to you to report to the Security Council on the deteriorating humanitarian and refugee situation, which is affecting thousands of innocent civilians and underscores the importance that all sides respect the fundamental principles of humanitarian law.

Furthermore, we call upon you and the Security Council to use all diplomatic channels to strengthen international support for the African Union’s mediation efforts and other regional initiatives to bring hostilities to an end and avoid a bloodbath in major urban centers.

Such efforts should focus on an immediate cessation of hostilities, respect for international humanitarian law, ensuring that there is unimpeded access to all populations in need of humanitarian assistance, an end to the communications black-out, and unhindered access by news media to all relevant areas.

We are sharing these concerns with all Members of the Security Council.

Respectfully yours,

We the undersigned, as World Refugee & Migration Council members, former officials who have directed African policy for the United States government and former officials with the United Nations.

Pamela Aall, American University and Senior Adviser, United States Institute of Peace

Madeleine Albright, WRMC Honorary Chair

Shaima Al Zarooni, Founder and President, Camp01

Lloyd Axworthy, WRMC Chair and former Foreign Minister of Canada

Alexander Betts, Professor & Director, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford

Johnnie Carson, former assistant secretary of State for African affairs

Aya Chebbi, African Union Youth Envoy, Co-founder of the Voice of Women Initiative and Founding chair of Afrika Youth Movement

Sarah Cliffe, Director of New York University’s Center on International Cooperation

Herman Cohen, former assistant secretary of State for African affairs

Chester A. Crocker, professor of strategic studies, Georgetown University, and former assistant secretary of State for African affairs

HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal, WRMC Honorary Chair

Jonathan Fanton, former President American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Former President MacArthur Foundation

Jeffrey Feltman, former assistant secretary of State for Near East affairs and former under-secretary general for political affairs

Elizabeth Ferris, WRMC Vice President of Research and Professor, Georgetown University

Jendayi Frazer, former assistant secretary of State for African affairs

Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate, Founder and President Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa

Fen Osler Hampson, WRMC President, Chancellor’s Professor, Carleton University

Per Heggenes, Chief Executive Officer, IKEA Foundation

Paul Heinbecker, WRMC Deputy Chair, former ambassador of Canada to the United Nations

Hina Jilani, WRMC Co-chair, human rights and democracy activist, and lawyer and advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan

Walter Kansteiner, former assistant secretary of State for African affairs

Jakaya Kikwete, WRMC Co-chair and former President of Tanzania

Susan Martin, Donald G. Herzberg Professor Emerita of International Migration at Georgetown University

Rosemary McCarney, former Ambassador of Canada to the United Nations

Glenn Mifflin, Chief Executive Officer, Cuso International

George Moose, former assistant secretary of State for African affairs

Marwan Muasher, VP for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, former foreign minister and deputy prime minister of Jordan

Constance Newman, former assistant secretary of State for African affairs

Devota Nuwe, Head of Programs Refugee Law Project, School of Law, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

Ratna Omidvar, Independent Senator, Senate of Canada

George A. Papandreou, Former Prime Minister of Greece

Nirupama Menon Rao, retired Indian diplomat, foreign secretary and ambassador

Susan Rice, former assistant secretary of State for African affairs, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and National Security Advisor.

Allan Rock, former Minister of Justice, Attorney General and Ambassador of Canada to the United Nations

Güven Sak, Executive of the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV), professor of public economics, TOBB University of Economics and Technology

Eduardo Stein, former vice president and foreign minister of Guatemala, special representative for Venezuelan refugees and Migrants of UNHCR and IOM

Rita Süssmuth, WRMC Co-chair, German politician and scholar

Jessie Thomson, WRMC member

CC:       Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

            Members of the Security Council


  • WRMC