Mr PEARSON (Essendon)- I rise to speak of the tragic conflict occurring in Ethiopia and express my wish for peace. A battle is being fought between rival military forces in Tigray in Ethiopia’s north. This battle has set in train a mass exodus and a humanitarian crisis on a devastating scale. My electorate of Essendon is home to many people of Ethiopian background. It matters to them that I can speak these words in this place. It is one small way I can offer my support. My Ethiopian constituents are glued for hours to their screens to try to glean any scrap of information about loved ones caught up in the crisis. We forget sometimes in this country how fortunate we are not to face these kinds of conflicts, but we must never, ever forget.

I quote here from an Age article to tell you just how desperate the Tigray situation is as its citizens make impossible choices:

The women were midway through their labour when the hospital director came in and told Mihret Glahif she had to run for her life.

It didn’t matter that her patients were giving birth, the staff had to leave immediately. The civil war had arrived, and it was knocking on the door.

“We heard gunshots and bombs,” the 25-year-old nurse said. “We left all of the patients. Some of them were injured soldiers, some of them were women in labour. We left everyone.”

There are reports emerging of bombings, beatings, machete massacres, even ethnic cleansing. Ethiopia is on the brink, and experts point to the country being in a pregenocide phase. To my Ethiopian constituents, many of whom have arrived in Victoria as refugees, I send my sincere support and wish for peace.