Thank you very much and good afternoon our members of the press and those guests that are with us.
It gives me really great pleasure to be able to speak just briefly – I wish we had more time – about this extraordinary visit that we have had to Ethiopia.
I am humbled and happy to have been at the opening of the AU Summit. The AU Summit itself provided an opportunity to speak with African leaders on many issues on the continent – from development to conflict, humanitarian crises – but then stepping off into Ethiopia to witness the tragedies of the conflict all around – there is never a winner in conflict – and to see the efforts that have been made by the Government and people in Ethiopia for peace, visiting the regions, regions from Tigray to Amhara, Somali, and this morning to Afar, to hear from the leaders there, to hear from the people, and to hear really what their hopes are and how they will engage with this pathway to peace.
I also met with very many of the workers of the United Nations, in partnership with Ethiopians, in trying to get humanitarian aid and assistance to the people that need it most, and this perhaps is the biggest call that we have is that that humanitarian assistance needs to get there yesterday, the urgency at which it needs to find, especially women and children that have been affected by this, is extremely important.
As you have heard before, the Secretary-General continues to reiterate his call for the cessation of hostilities in the country and for us to find that pathway to peace through the national dialogue.
This has been a journey of solidarity with the Ethiopian people. It is one that we are convinced, you will find a way and we will accompany the Ethiopian people to that peace. Then we can really begin to talk about the investments that we need to make in development. This is important in the short and in the longer term, so thank you.
Q: [On mediation efforts, including by the African Union]
Deputy Secretary-General: Yes, we have with African leaders that continued to speak with the Government here and other leaders. Today I was in the field and the African Union Special Envoy, former President Obasanjo, was in Afar and yesterday he was in Tigray. So, yes, I think that the, the talks continue and there is certainly less hostility than there was a few months ago. We are in a much better place and there is much more conversation and dialogue and talk around the national dialogue itself and the way to peace.
Q: [On meeting with the Tigray People's Liberation Front and what its demands are]
Deputy Secretary-General: Yes, I did, and I think the demands are known by all sides, that one wants to see more humanitarian assistance, the cessation of hostilities and the dialogue, the dialogue to answer those demands have not changed. They're the same. Thank you.