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Tigray: Cultural Heritage

Question for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

UIN HL14185, tabled on 12 March 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the governments of (1) Ethiopia, and (2) Eritrea, about the need (a) to take immediate steps to prevent any further damage to the cultural sites of Tigray, (b) to safeguard and respect all cultural property in Tigray, and (c) to ensure that looted objects are restored to their communities.

Answered on

26 March 2021

We are deeply concerned by reports of violations of international law and international human rights law from Tigray, and have raised our concerns with Ministers in the governments of both Ethiopia and Eritrea, making clear the overriding need to protect civilians and adhere to international law and international human rights law. We are concerned by reports from Tigray of attacks on places of worship as well as damage to cultural monuments and artefacts. Our Embassy in Addis Ababa has been in contact with the UNESCO offices in Addis, and is monitoring matters carefully. We are concerned by the growing weight of credible evidence of atrocities in Tigray, including looting. The Minister for Africa has called for the withdrawal of Eritrean forces. We welcome the announcement, on 26 March, of their withdrawal and call for this to be immediate and unconditional. We have clearly set out the need for independent, international, investigations into allegations of human right abuses and violations. We have also stressed the need for Ethiopia to safeguard its incredible diversity of faith and identity. Respect for cultural heritage is part of this, alongside freedom of expression and freedom of religion and belief.