The conflict between Tigray Region special forces and the Ethiopian National Defense Force, which began in the Tigray area in northern Ethiopia on November 4, has killed hundreds of Ethiopians and displaced thousands.
The fighting is the result of a power struggle, based along ethnic lines, between an old regime and one elected to power just two years ago.The new regime is distancing itself from the country’s former authoritarianism centered on ethnic differences. It is also working toward instituting vast democratic political and economic reforms that stress an Ethiopian national identity.
“This is not two sovereign states fighting against each other. This is a faction of the government running a region in Ethiopia that has decided to undertake hostilities against the central government,” said Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy during a teleconference briefing.
In a recent call with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for a complete end to the fighting and constructive dialogue to resolve the crisis. He stressed the willingness of the United States, the African Union envoys and other international partners to assist in dialogue and reconciliation.
Unfortunately, there have been credible reports that civilians have been purposely targeted and attacked by combatants.
“We urge independent investigations of all reports of atrocities and attacks against civilians. Those found responsible must be held accountable in accordance with the law,” said Assistant Secretary Nagy.
On November 28, the Government of Ethiopia announced the end of major military operations in Tigray. Nevertheless, fighting continues in various pockets around Mekele, Tigray’s capital, and sporadically within the regional state.
Many Ethiopians who have been displaced by the fighting are leaving their homelands and crossing the border into Sudan. The United States is keeping in close contact with international and domestic humanitarian officials regarding their plans for a response to over 45,000 refugees who have fled the conflict so far.
In his call with the Prime Minister, Secretary Pompeo also underscored the importance of protecting civilians from further harm, including refugees and civilians fleeing the conflict into Sudan. He emphasized the need to allow international humanitarian organizations access to the Tigray region to ensure the unhindered flow of humanitarian assistance including fuel, food, and medical supplies to those in need.
The United States stands with the people of Ethiopia and will work with all who are committed to peace, prosperity, democracy, and the rule of law.