U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, and Ethiopian Minister of Finance Ahmed Shide visit a U.N. Logistics Center Warehouse in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Wednesday, March 15, 2023. InternationalIndiaAfricaMuhammad OsmanWriter/EditorOn Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Addis Ababa, where he met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen to discuss a range of issues, including the implementation of a peace deal between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray rebels in the country’s north.The United States is ready to offer more than $331 million in humanitarian assistance for Ethiopia on condition that an “inclusive and credible” transitional justice process after the two-year conflict in the northern Tigray region be attained, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.The visiting top US diplomat explained that the new funding would provide life-saving support to those displaced and affected by conflict, drought, and food insecurity in the country, what would “help deepen the partnership between the United States and Africa.””Today I am announcing more than $331 million in new humanitarian assistance for Ethiopia in FY 2023 through the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development,” Blinken said. “This assistance includes $12 million through the State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and more than $319 million through the U.S. Agency for International Development.”Ethiopia had been experiencing a violent internal conflict since November 2020, when the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces attacked national military bases. In response, the federal government launched an anti-terrorist operation in the northern region. In November 2022, the government of Ethiopia and the Tigray rebels signed a peace agreement that ended the two-year-long armed conflict that saw, according to reports by humanitarian organizations, the death of thousands of people and the displacement of millions more.AfricaBlinken to Travel to Ethiopia, Niger March 14-17, US State Dept. Says11 March, 06:20 GMTWith the conflict raging, Washington slapped sanctions on Ethiopia and suspended its membership in the African Growth and Opportunities Act, a preferential trade program that gives eligible sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the US market.While in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, Blinken, who is expected to visit the African Union headquarters in the city, called on the country’s government to ensure accountability for human right abuses in the conflict, adding that it would be crucial to resuming greater economic ties with Washington and the country’s return to the trade pact.
"We urge Ethiopians to follow through on their commitment to each other to provide an inclusive and comprehensive transitional justice process that includes both reconciliation and accountability," Blinken told reporters after meeting PM Ahmed and representatives of TPLF. "Then our own ability to move forward on our engagement with Ethiopia, to include economic engagement, will also move forward," the top diplomat said
Although he acknowledged there was “a very significant drop in human rights violations and abuses in Tigray”, the US foreign policy chief told his Ethiopian counterpart Mekonnen “there’s a lot to be done,” adding, “the most important thing is to keep the peace that has now taken hold in the north and to strengthen our ties as we move along.”Blinken is also expected to head on Thursday to Niger, from where he would conclude his four-day African tour aimed at promoting US partnership in Africa.In November 2022, the African Union brokered a peace deal between the TPLF, which was dominant in the coalition that governed Ethiopia from 1991 to 2018, and the Ethiopian federal forces. Since the signing of the deal in Pretoria, South Africa, peaceful everyday life has gradually resumed in the northern war-torn Tigray region, where thousands of people, according to media reports, were killed and millions more displaced.The deal eased the way for humanitarian aid, access to which was previously restricted in the war-ravaged region, and the gradual return of public services, like flights, banking, telecommunications, electricity, and fuel supplies.AfricaEritrea’s Afwerki Accuses US of Assisting Tigray Rebels During Conflict in Ethiopia13 February, 18:16 GMTIn September 2022, a few weeks before the signing of the peace agreement, the UN International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE), established in December 2021, published its first report, claiming that it had evidence of human rights violations committed by all sides of the conflict that could amount to “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.” The commission called on the parties to conduct investigations and bring everyone responsible for the abuses to justice.Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen warned that the ICHREE commission “could undermine the AU-led peace process & the implementation of the Pretoria Peace Agreement with inflammatory rhetoric,” adding that “it could also undermine the efforts of national institutions.”In mid-February, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki accused Washington of supporting the Tigray rebels during the the two-year armed conflict in neighboring Ethiopia. The Eritrean head of state claimed that the November peace agreement between the Ethiopian sides of the conflict was worked out “mainly” by the United States, which rushed to strike a deal in order to prevent the Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s total defeat in the war it had initiated in November 2020.Afwerki argued that the Biden administration was more concerned than the TPLF leadership about the situation, so it ran to what he called a “tactic of neutrality” in order to serve “US strategic interests.”