The prime minister of Ethiopia should be stripped of his Nobel Peace Prize, ministers have been told.
The Conservative former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt suggested it was “high time” Ethiopia’s leader, Abiy Ahmed, returned the prize, which was awarded to him in 2019 for ending his country’s stalemate with neighbouring Eritrea.
Mr Abiy is reported this month to have begun leading frontline troops in his government’s conflict with rebels from Ethiopia’s Tigray region, after vowing to “bury this enemy with our blood and bones and make the glory of Ethiopia high again”.
In a question to Foreign Office minister Vicky Ford, Mr Hunt said: “There is a genocide happening in Tigray.
And why does he still have that Nobel Peace Prize? Is it not high time he was stripped of it?Jeremy Hunt
“What work is she doing with our partners in the United States, the EU, and other western countries to send a message to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed that there can be no international aid channelled through the Ethiopian government until the genocide stops?
“And why does he still have that Nobel Peace Prize? Is it not high time he was stripped of it?”
Ms Ford said: “We are continuing to work really, really closely with our partners in the US, in the UN, and indeed I met African partners during my recent visits to New York and Washington.”
She added that she was speaking to Ethiopian leaders to “try and bring all people to a ceasefire”.
Ms Ford also said: “Regarding the Nobel Peace Prize, that is a decision for the Nobel committee themselves.”
The minister repeated warnings she made in September that British nationals in Ethiopia should leave the country now while commercial flights are still available.
Ms Ford said: “There is really a growing risk of uncontrollable ethnic violence and there is still a huge amount of long-term damage to the social cohesion of the country.
“As I said in my statement on September 24, we may see this conflict move closer to Addis Ababa and we are strongly urging all British nationals to leave now while commercial flights are regularly available.”
She was responding to a question from Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, who said: “The conflict in Tigray has dramatically escalated in the last year, my constituents in Bath who have family detained in the capital in Ethiopia have not heard from them for the best part of this year.
“Can she outline what efforts have been made with the international community to ensure that all those unlawfully detained across Ethiopia are being released?”
Fighting between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray rebels has been taking place for over a year.
Rough estimates suggest that more than 100,000 people including civilians have been killed in the conflict.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which is fighting against government forces, was the ruling party in Ethiopia’s coalition until 2018, when Mr Abiy was elected.
Discontent with the then-government led to Mr Abiy’s election because of his ancestry linked to two other ethnic groups in the country, the Oromo and the Amhara.