The UN Security Council has held its first meeting on the conflict in Ethiopia’s dissident Tigray region without members issuing a statement on Tuesday.

European members forced the closed-door discussion to be held after African countries pulled out of organizing the meeting at short notice, highlighting divisions over Security Council action on the three weeks of fighting in Ethiopia.

“South Africa asked for time so that the envoys can conduct their consultations and refer the matter to the African Union. A statement could complicate the situation,” an African diplomat said after the session.

A European diplomat, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Europeans “expressed their concerns, condemned violence of an ethnic nature and demanded protection of civilians,” during the session that lasted one hour 20 minutes.

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France, Britain, Belgium, Germany and Estonia — backed by the United States — announced the virtual meeting after South Africa, Niger, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines withdrew their request because envoys have yet to travel to Ethiopia.

“At a certain moment, we have to put it on the agenda, even if the Africans don’t like it,” a European diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

It would be recalled that the African Union announced on Friday that three former presidents had been appointed as special envoys to Ethiopia to help mediation efforts between the conflicting parties.

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