Joe Biden sends envoy, $52 million more in aid to address humanitarian crisis in Tigray region, Ethiopia
London, March 19, 2021 (AltAfrica)-U.S. President Joe Biden will provide nearly $52 million more in aid to address the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region, Ethiopia but called for hostilities to end and human rights abusers to be held accountable.
Washington is also sending Senator Chris Coons to Ethiopia to meet with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and convey Biden’s “grave concerns” over the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region, where thousands have died following fighting.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces, an end to the Ethiopian government’s deployment of regional forces in Tigray and increased humanitarian access.
“The humanitarian situation will continue to worsen without a political solution,” Blinken said in a statement.
Fighting between government troops and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes in the mountainous region of about 5 million.
The United Nations has raised concerns about atrocities being committed in Tigray, while Blinken has described acts carried out in the region as ethnic cleansing. Ethiopia has rejected Blinken’s allegation.
“(The accusation) is a completely unfounded and spurious verdict against the Ethiopian government,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said on March 13, reacting to the allegation of ethnic cleansing.
“Nothing during or after the end of the main law enforcement operation in Tigray can be identified or defined by any standards as a targeted, intentional ethnic cleansing against anyone in the region,” it said. “The Ethiopian government vehemently opposes such accusations.”
Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement that Coons – a longtime Biden ally who represents the president’s home state of Delaware – would also consult with the African Union.
“Senator Coons will convey President Biden’s grave concerns about the humanitarian crisis and human rights abuses in the Tigray region and the risk of broader instability in the Horn of Africa,” Sullivan said. The senator serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on Africa and global health policy.
Officials in the prime minister’s office and at the foreign ministry did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.