Ethiopia’s Tigray region and the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara are in the midst of a humanitarian disaster, the result of more than ten months of fighting between militant groups supporting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Ethiopian National Defense Forces.
Today, around 400,000 people are facing starvation while over four million people are experiencing acute food insecurity. Yet at the same time, the Ethiopian government is creating obstacles to the delivery of life-saving aid. According to the United Nations, the Ethiopian government is allowing the delivery of only about 10 percent of the supplies needed to keep the civilian population alive.
To make matters worse, the Ethiopian government has expelled seven UN officials, accusing the United Nations of meddling in Ethiopia’s internal affairs. The officials include the country heads of UN agencies that are delivering life-saving assistance in Ethiopia and bringing attention to the urgent humanitarian crisis, and a senior official from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which has raised concerns about the human rights situation.
“The U.S. government condemns in the strongest possible terms the government of Ethiopia’s unprecedented action to expel the leadership of all of the United Nations organizations involved in ongoing humanitarian operations,” said White House Spokesperson Jen Psaki. “We agree with U.N. leaders: This is a stain on our collective conscience, and it must stop.”
“The action follows the release of reports warning that hundreds of thousands of people are starving to death in northern Ethiopia. We’re deeply concerned that this action continues a pattern by the Ethiopian government of obstructing the delivery of food, medicine, and other lifesaving supplies that most — to those most in need.”
“President Biden signed an executive order, earlier this month, enabling the U.S. government to impose financial sanctions on those prolonging the conflict in northern Ethiopia,” said Spokesperson Psaki.
“We will not hesitate to use this or any other tool at our disposal to respond quickly and decisively to those who obstruct humanitarian assistance to the people of Ethiopia.”
“We call on the international community similarly to employ all appropriate tools to apply pressure on the Government of Ethiopia and any other actors impeding humanitarian access,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“We urge the Government of Ethiopia to collaboratively work with the UN and international partners to allow and facilitate safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all in need.”