U.S. Limits Visas and Aid in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region

TOPSHOT – Ethiopian refugees who fled Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict arrive by bus from Village Eight transit centre near the Ethiopian border at the entrance of Um Raquba refugee camp in Sudan’s eastern Gedaref state, on December 11, 2020. – Thousands of people fled war in Ethiopia with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Now in Um Raquba camp in neighbouring Sudan, dozens of destitute refugees from the fighting in the northern Tigray region flock each day to Omar Ibrahim’s makeshift tailor shop. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP) (Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)

The United States on Sunday announced visa restrictions on Ethiopian and Eritrean officials accused of fuelling the six-month-old conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, saying those involved have “taken no meaningful steps to end hostilities.”

U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken in a statement said the “… people in Tigray continue to suffer human rights violations, abuses, and atrocities, and urgently needed humanitarian relief is being blocked by the Ethiopian and Eritrean militaries.”

“Despite significant diplomatic engagement, the parties to the conflict in Tigray have taken no meaningful steps to end hostilities or pursue a peaceful resolution of the political crisis,” he added.

Blinken also announced “wide-ranging” restrictions on economic and security assistance to Ethiopia, adding that the US would continue humanitarian aid in areas such as health, food and education.

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He announced that the visa restrictions target “current or former Ethiopian or Eritrean government officials, members of the security forces, or other individuals — to include Amhara regional and irregular forces and members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).”

The Tigray conflict erupted in early November when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to detain and disarm leaders of the regional ruling party, the TPLF.

Abiy, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, said the move came in response to TPLF attacks on federal army camps.

Though he vowed the conflict would be brief, more than six months later, fighting continues and world leaders are warning of a potential humanitarian catastrophe. 

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Eritrean troops, who teamed up with the Ethiopian military, have been implicated in multiple massacres and other atrocities during the Tigray conflict, allegations Asmara denies.

The United States condemns in the strongest terms the killings, forced removals, systemic sexual violence, and other human rights violations and abuses,”

The Ethiopian government says it is committed to investigating human rights abuses committed during its fight against troops loyal to the TPLF.

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