U.S. Official Calls for Cease-Fire as Ethiopia Conflict Deepens
(Bloomberg) -- The head of the U.S Agency for International Development called for an end to hostilities and on anti-government forces to withdraw from two regions bordering Ethiopia’s war-ravaged Tigray region.
Samantha Power’s comments in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, came after the U.S. State Department reinforced its calls for Tigray forces, which have been embroiled in a nine-month conflict with the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, to “withdraw its associated military forces immediately from the Amhara and Afar regions.”
The worsening conflict may scare overseas investment into Africa’s second-most populous nation just as it prepares to lure overseas telecommunications operators, as well as investors for its sugar assets. The violence has spilled into the neighboring Afar and Amhara regions as Tigray forces seek to push back against their adversaries following gains in June and July.
“There is no a military solution for an internal matter,” Power said. “We call for an end of hostilities, cease-fire and to start dialog. Militias and special forces need to withdraw from neighboring regions.”
The State Department also condemned the Abiy-backed Amhara regional government’s presence in Western Tigray, which it forcibly annexed during the course of the civil war. The U.S is watching with “great alarm” as a conflict that began in Tigray is now beginning to spread, Power told reporters Wednesday.
Tigray has been engulfed in conflict since November, when federal troops retaliated for an attack by regional soldiers on an army base.
Risk of Starvation
Power also urged Ethiopia to allow “unfettered humanitarian access,” days after it suspended the activities of two humanitarian organizations working in the war-torn Tigray region.
The United Nations estimates that more than 400,000 people in the Tigray region are at risk of starvation. Earlier on Tuesday, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said Tigray forces pushing south and east have displaced 200,000 people in the Amhara and 54,000 in Afar.
The head of the World Food Programme on Wednesday said that 175 trucks carrying life-saving materials had arrived in Tigray. Aid trucks are only reaching 10% of the needs in the region, Power said.
“Now more than ever we need full access, more funds and most important of all a cease-fire,” the WFP head David Beasley said on his Twitter account.
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