UPDATE: US Deploys Diaster Response Team to Tigray, Ethiopia Answers Criticism

The USAID team will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The press release said: "The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict." The U.S. is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia, having given more than $652 million last year alone. (Photo: USAID Headquarters in D.C./Shutterstock.com)

Press Release

Office of Press Relations: press@usaid.gov

USAID DEPLOYS DISASTER ASSISTANCE RESPONSE TEAM TO RESPOND TO HUMANITARIAN NEEDS IN TIGRAY, ETHIOPIA

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is deploying a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to respond to growing humanitarian needs stemming from conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. After nearly four months of fighting between armed groups, hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and more than four million people are in need of food assistance.

USAID’s DART will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict.

Since the outbreak of conflict, USAID’s partners have been pivoting existing programs to provide life-saving assistance in the few areas of Tigray that can be reached. While USAID has been working with partners to overcome many access challenges, an estimated 80 percent of Tigray remains cut off from assistance.

The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Ethiopia and is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia. In FY 2020, the U.S. provided more than $652 million in humanitarian assistance to respond to acute food needs, conflict-driven displacement, flooding, a desert locust infestation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Urges Ethiopia to End Hostilities in Tigray

By Reuters

Published March 2, 2021

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Tuesday pressed the leader od Ethiopia to end hostilities in the northern Tigray region, citing a “growing number of credible reports of atrocities and human rights violations and abuses.”

In a phone call with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Mr. Blinken pushed for Ethiopia to withdraw outside forces from Tigray, and for an immediate end to the violence, according to a State Department spokesman, Ned Price.

The Biden administration is seeking an end to what it describes as a deepening humanitarian crisis. It was the second time in less than a week that Mr. Blinken cited reports of atrocities in the region.

“The secretary urged the Ethiopian government to take immediate, concrete steps to protect civilians, including refugees, and to prevent further violence,” Mr. Price said in a statement Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters, he said, “We strongly condemn the killings, the forced removals and displacement, the sexual assaults, and other human rights violations and abuses by several parties that multiple organizations have now reported.”

Mr. Blinken also asked that Mr. Abiy allow independent international investigations.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Abiy, Billene Seyoum, pointed to a statement made late last month in which Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry called American attempts to intervene in its internal affairs “regrettable.”

The statement said that Ethiopia’s government took its responsibility for the safety, security, and well-being of all citizens “very seriously” and that it was “fully committed to undertake thorough investigations” into reports of abused.

But it added the government had a duty to hold the nation together in the face of “treasonous and divisive forces.”

The Ethiopians military ousted the former local ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, from the regional capital in November, after what it described as a surprise assault on its forces in Tigray.

Thousands of people have died, hundreds of thousands have been forced from homes and there are shortages of food, water and medicine around the region of more than five million people.

Related:

UPDATE: Ethiopia Responds to U.S. Criticism Over Tigray


People receive services from a mobile health and nutrition clinic in Freweyni town, north of Mekele, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Zerihun Sewunet/UNICEF via AP)

The Associated Press

Ethiopia rebuffs US call to pull outside forces from Tigray

Ethiopia’s government is rebuffing calls by the United States to withdraw troops from the embattled Tigray region.

In response to U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call for Ethiopia to immediately withdraw troops from Tigray, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said that it is an issue to be decided by the Addis Ababa government, not a foreign power.

“It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued Sunday. “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its federal and regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

No foreign country should try to “dictate a sovereign nation’s internal affairs,” said the Ethiopian statement.

Alarm is growing over the fate of Tigray’s 6 million people as fierce fighting reportedly continues between Ethiopian and allied forces and those supporting the now-fugitive Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government.

The United Nations in its latest humanitarian report on the situation in Tigray says the “humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate” as fighting intensifies across the northern region.

“Aid workers on the ground have reported hearing gunshots from the main cities, including in Mekelle and Shire,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Sunday. “Residents and aid workers on the ground continue reporting incidents of house searches and indiscriminate looting, including of household items, farming equipment, ambulances and office vehicles, allegedly by various armed actors.”

No one knows how many thousands of civilians have been killed. Humanitarian officials have warned that a growing number of people might be starving to death in Tigray.

Accounts of atrocities by Ethiopian and allied forces against residents of Tigray were detailed in reports by The Associated Press and by Amnesty International. Ethiopia’s federal government and regional officials in Tigray both believe that each other’s governments are illegitimate after the pandemic disrupted elections.

Related:

Ethiopia slams US for urging pullout of Amhara forces


The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.” (Anadolu Agency)

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Addis Getachew Tadesse

Forces from Amhara region were on frontlines of law enforcement operations against Tigray rebels last November

ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian government on Monday lashed out at the US for demanding the withdrawal of forces from the region of Amhara in the country’s northernmost Tigray region.

Force from the Amhara region were on the frontlines of law enforcement operations launched against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) last November after the group’s deadly attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces.

On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken issued a statement saying that Amhara and the neighboring country of Eritrea need to pull their troops out of the Tigray region.

The US remarks followed a report by Amnesty International that hundreds of civilians were shot dead in the town of Axum in Tigray — a report that alleged the involvement of Eritrean forces in the killings, which, if proved, could amount to crimes against humanity.

“[The] attempt by the US to make pronouncements on Ethiopia’s internal affairs and specifically the reference to the Amhara regional forces’ redeployment is regrettable,” the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government, which, as a sovereign nation, is responsible to deploy the necessary security structures and means available in ensuring the rule of law within all corners of its borders,” it said.

It added: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

The Horn of Africa country said it would investigate the alleged killings and other human rights abuses in Tigray.

Ethiopia’s War Leads to Ethnic Cleansing in Tigray Region, U.S. Report Says


Children playing in front a house in the Tigray region that was damaged in fighting in December. (Getty Images)

The New York Times

Updated: Feb. 27, 2021

An internal U.S. government report found that people in Tigray are being driven from their homes in a war begun by Ethiopia, an American ally — posing President Biden’s first major test in Africa.

Ethiopian officials and allied militia fighters are leading a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, the war-torn region in northern Ethiopia, according to an internal United States government report obtained by The New York Times.

The report, written earlier this month, documents in stark terms a land of looted houses and deserted villages where tens of thousands of people are unaccounted for…

On Friday afternoon, in response to the Amnesty International report, Mr. Abiy’s office said it was ready to collaborate in an international investigation into atrocities in Tigray. The government “reiterates its commitment to enabling a stable and peaceful region,” it said in a statement.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »

Related:

UPDATE: In Ethiopia Premier Launches Campaign to Support Tigray


“In an online meeting held this afternoon [Thursday, February 18th 2021], Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister. (AA)

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By Addis Getachew

Updated: February 18th 2021

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Ethiopian prime minister and regional authorities have launched a campaign to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the restive Tigray region.

“In an online meeting held this [Thursday] afternoon, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister.

“The solidarity initiative aims at mobilizing the contribution of regions and federal institutions as well as other stakeholders in supporting humanitarian efforts underway, in addition to food and non-food items to be directed to the people of Tigray,” it said.

It added that “the regional presidents also pledged direct support to strengthen the provisional administration to carry out public service delivery duties.”

Vehicles, various equipment, input seeds for farmers, ambulances, medicines, and monetary support were pledged by each region and would be handed over to the provisional administration within the coming days.

“Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed further called upon all sections of society to make whatever contributions they can towards the #RebuildTigray solidarity initiative,” the statement noted.

On Nov. 3, 2020, the now-outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its special forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, killing soldiers and looting military hardware.

The following day, the federal government launched what has been dubbed as a large-scale law enforcement operation in Tigray in which the TPLF was largely defeated and some of its top leaders and fighters were either neutralized or captured.

Although the prime minister declared the military operations were over on Nov. 28, there have been sporadic clashes between the government forces and fighters loyal to TPLF.

More than 60,000 Ethiopians fled the fighting to neighboring Sudan while international organizations have been calling for scaled-up humanitarian assistance in the region for civilians affected by the conflict.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have also been reported to have become internally displaced and in dire need of emergency assistance.

The international media have been kept out of the scene, making it difficult to give total pictures of the humanitarian tribulations and suffering in an objective and impartial manner.

An Addis Ababa resident with relatives living in Tigray told Anadolu Agency, asking to remain anonymous, that humanitarian assistance in support of suffering civilians has not been sufficient.

Last week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission revealed that 108 rape cases were reported in two months across the region.

Related:

UPDATE: UN Ethiopia Tweeted ‘Progress’ on Humanitarian Front in Tigray

UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

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