U.S. Blacklists Eritrean Military Over Conflict in Ethiopia

The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on the Eritrean military and other Eritrea-based individuals and entities as it seeks to increase pressure on parties to the conflict to bring an end to fighting in northern Ethiopia.

The U.S. Treasury Department in a statement said it blacklisted Eritrea’s military, its ruling political party the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), the party’s economic adviser and the head of the Eritrean national security office, accusing them of contributing to the conflict in neighbouring Ethiopia.

War broke out in November 2020 between federal troops and forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the ruling party of Tigray. It has since spread into two neighbouring regions in northern Ethiopia.

Director of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Groups Andrea Gacki said in a statement; “We condemn the continued role played by Eritrean actors who are contributing to the violence in northern Ethiopia, which has undermined the stability and integrity of the state and resulted in a humanitarian disaster,”

“Treasury will continue to use all our tools and authorities to target and expose those whose actions prolong the crisis in the region, where hundreds of thousands are suffering,” she said.

Early in the war, the Eritrean military sent in tanks and troops to aid its ally, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Eritrea has also used the conflict to settle old scores in Tigray

Abiy’s government initially denied Eritrea had deployed forces, but later acknowledged they were there and in March, said Eritrea was withdrawing its troops from Tigray. According to witnesses, the Eritrean army continues to operate in northern Ethiopia

For the first five months of the conflict, Eritrea denied its forces were in Tigray. Eritrean soldiers have been repeatedly accused of mass killings of civilians, kidnapping refugees and gang rape on military bases, according to Reuters reporting and international rights groups such as Human Rights Watch. Eritrea has rejected these accusations.

Also blacklisted on Friday was Hidri Trust, which the Treasury said is the holding company of all the business enterprises of the Eritrean ruling party, and the Red Sea Trading Corporation, which manages its property and financial interests.

The year-long conflict in northern Ethiopia has killed thousands and forced more than two million people from their homes. Fighting has spread from Tigray into neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions.

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