The United States has imposed fresh sanctions on an Eritrean official accused of being engaged in serious human rights abuse in Tigray in a conflict where hundreds of thousands of people face famine conditions under a government blockade the U.S. has described as a siege.
In a statement issued by the U.S. Treasury Department, the chief of staff of the Eritrean Defense Forces, Filipos Woldeyohannes has been sanctioned for leading a group accused of despicable acts including massacres, widespread sexual assault and purposely shooting civilians in the streets.
The statement called on Eritrea to permanently remove its soldiers from Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
The nine-month war has seen the death of thousands of people with more than 2 million displaced.
War broke out in November between the federal army and forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that controls the region.
The government had declared victory after seizing the regional capital Mekelle but the TPLF kept fighting and retook Mekelle and most of Tigray after government soldiers withdrew.
The sanctions are intended to put new pressure to stop the war, allow unrestricted access to Tigray and engage in dialogue but Ethiopia’s government has declared the Tigray leadership a terrorist group.
Tigray forces have laid out several conditions for talks, including the resumption of basic services to the region.
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