The United States of America has expressed ‘grave concern’ over the growing humanitarian and human rights crisis in the Ethiopia.
Jake Sullivan the White House national security adviser speaking to Ethiopia’s deputy prime minister on April 8, expressed dissatisfaction of Ethipia’s way of handling of human rights after a disturbing report by The Associated Press and warnings by the United Nations that a campaign of rape and murder was being carried out against the Tigrayan people by military forces from the Amhara state of Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea.
He spoke with Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen where the two discussed wider and critical steps to address the crisis, including expanded humanitarian access, cessation of hostilities, departure of foreign troops, and independent investigations into atrocities and human rights violations according to a statement issued by the National Security Council spokesperson.
“Mr. Sullivan stressed that the United States is ready to help Ethiopia address the crisis, building on our longstanding bilateral partnership and friendship.”the statement read in part.
The associated press on wednesday April 7 published a report detailing dozens of accounts by Tigrayan refugees who described rapes, beatings, gunshot wounds and seeing dozens of corpses suggesting a massacre.
Last month, Reuters reported quoting Wafaa the deputy U.N. aid coordinator in Ethiopia, that five medical facilities in the region had reported at least 516 rape cases, a number she said was likely underrepresented the overall number because of the stigma associated with rape and a destruction of health facilities.
In a report on Wednesday the AP’s said Tigrayan refugees have had their ethnic identities erased from newly issued identity cards, in what the news agency said was evidence of a concerted effort by the Ethiopian government to erase their ethnic identity.
Antony Blinken the secretary of state has described what is happening in Tigray as “ethnic cleansing” a serious charge that describes the forced expulsion of a population through violence, killings and rapes. He has also called for the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from the country.
The U.S. has had diplomatic relations with Ethiopia for more than a century. It is the second most populous country in Africa and receives one of the largest and most complex assistance programs according to the State Department.
Administration officials have focused on the humanitarian crisis and allegations of human rights atrocities in the country since Biden took office.
The conflict occurring in the north of Ethiopia began in November, with government forces instituting a brutal crackdown in the Tigray region after Tigrayan officials sought to hold their own elections after national polls were delayed.
The Ethiopian government has admitted to Eritrean forces being present in the north and has committed to investigating allegations of atrocities but has criticized such reporting as “slanted” that “portray the federal government as the instigator of all crimes.”
In a lengthy statement from the Ethiopian foreign ministry posted on twitter responding to Wednesday’s report by the AP, the government called the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, a political opposition party, a “criminal enterprise” that is “armed to its teeth.”
The violence occurring in the region is further being exacerbated by a critical lack of essential services such as . The U.S. announced last month it was committing an additional $52 million to aid the humanitarian crisis, providing “lifesaving protection, shelter, essential health care, emergency food aid, water, sanitation, and hygiene services.” That is on top of approximately $100 million provided at the outset of the conflict.