President Biden announced new sanctions against the prolonged fighting and humanitarian crisis in Tigray, Ethiopia. This Friday, an executive order was signed to allow the U.S. Treasury and State Department to sanction parties involved in the crisis if they do not soon take any steps to stop the violence, according to Al Jazeera. This multi-party conflict has killed thousands of Ethiopians and left at least five million people in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
Al Jazeera also added that up to 900,000 people are living under famine conditions in Tigray with aid convoys regularly blocked from the entrance by the Ethiopian troops. Although the U.S. condemns both parties involved in the conflict, the Ethiopian President blames the opposition, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The Ethiopian government has repeatedly called TPLF “a terrorist organization” and asks the U.S. to not make impetuous decisions about the issue.
Biden’s statement addresses: “The Executive Order I signed today establishes a new sanctions regime that will allow us to target those responsible for, or complicit in, prolonging the conflict in Ethiopia, obstructing humanitarian access, or preventing a ceasefire.” He specifically condemns members of the government of Ethiopia, Eritrea, the TPLF, and the Amhara regional government for the neglect of human rights.
He also agreed with the UN and African Union that “there is no military solution to this crisis,” as reported by Al Jazeera. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed wrote an open letter to the U.S. President, in which he accuses the U.S. and wider international communities of overlooking the crimes committed by the “terrorist” TPLF. “Unfortunately, while the entire world has turned its eyes onto Ethiopia and the government for all the wrong reasons, it has failed to openly and sternly reprimand the terrorist group in the same manner it has been chastising my government,” he wrote.
The crisis in Ethiopia has been prolonged for 10 months and people will continue to suffer if no peaceful solution is found soon. The immediate action that the Ethiopian Government must take is to allow foreign aid inside Tigray. There is also the urgent need for both sides to find a reasonable medium whereby they could negotiate a cease-fire. The government must also allow the African Union to help in initiating talks and solutions.
Ethiopia is one of the most vulnerable African countries that has suffered years of political instability and human rights abuses. The conflict in Tigray started to escalate in November when the Ethiopian Government ordered ground and air military operations after accusing the TPLF of orchestrating attacks on federal army camps. Many young civilians are forced to fight for their lives and there are countless reports of young girls and women being sexually assaulted by the combatants. These children and women are caught in the middle of the conflict and they are being neglected by their government who stays committed to the offensive course.
The ongoing crisis in Tigray reflects the government’s incapacity to ensure the safety of its citizens. The U.S. and the wider international community must continue to pressure all parties involved in the conflict to cease-fire and initiate talks. This fight has been dragged on for months and both sides have gained little from perpetuating violence; more and more civilians are being displaced and having their lives turned upside down. If things keep escalating, this crisis could lead to the targeted genocide of the Tigrayan people or years-long wars that will create further division and violence.
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