Sunday, October 17, 2021

US paves the way for more sanctions over Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict

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WASHINGTON: The United States on Friday paved the way for more sanctions to be imposed on parties to the conflict in northern Ethiopia, where thousands have died and millions need humanitarian assistance.
A new executive order allows Washington to take punitive measures against the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Amhara regional government if they continue the military conflict over negotiations, senior officials from the American administration.
The move, which increases pressure on the parties to come to the negotiating table and end the fighting, comes after Washington has repeatedly called for a negotiated end to the conflict and access to aid to the northern region of Tigray, where the conflict is. started.
“Unless the parties take concrete steps to resolve the crisis, the administration is prepared to take aggressive action under this new executive order to impose specific sanctions against a wide range of individuals or entities,” warned a senior administration official.
Billene Seyoum, a spokesman for the Ethiopian prime minister, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Eritrea’s Information Minister and a TPLF spokesperson were unavailable for comment.
10 months ago it erupted between Ethiopian federal troops and forces loyal to the TPLF, which controls Tigray.
Since then, thousands have died and more than 2 million have fled their homes. The fighting spread in July from Tigray to the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar, also in the north of the country. The fighting in those two regions has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and made about 1.7 million dependent on food aid.
“The United States is determined to promote a peaceful resolution of this conflict,” said President Joe Biden in a statement, in which he asked the parties to the conflict to stop their military campaigns and to sit at the negotiating table, respect the human rights and allow humanitarian access. .
Humanitarian crisis
More than 5 million more people within Tigray are in need of humanitarian assistance, but less than 10% of the necessary supplies have reached the region in the past month due to aid obstruction, said the administration official, describing the situation as one of the “worst humanitarian and humane situations”. human rights crisis in the world “.
The U.S. Treasury Department is also issuing blanket licenses to grant exemptions for development, humanitarian and other assistance, as well as critical business activities in Ethiopia and Eritrea, to ensure that the new sanctions do not harm those suffering from conflict. added the official.
But the Biden administration refrained from imposing sanctions alongside the executive order in hopes that it would provide an incentive to move away from the military focus, another senior US administration official said.
The first official added that the administration expected a meaningful discussion on Ethiopia next week during the annual high-level week of the United Nations General Assembly.
“Now is the time because we have been engaged in this for months and yet the situation has only deteriorated,” the official said. “Now we believe that it is necessary to raise costs for the parties to continue with the war,” he added.
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