Panafrican News Agency

Ethiopian crisis: US concerned about renewed hostilities in Ethiopia

Washington, DC, US (PANA) - The US has expressed concern about reports of renewed hostilities in Ethiopia and called on the Government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to "redouble efforts" to advance talks to achieve a durable ceasefire without preconditions and ultimately bring a permanent end to the conflict.

A statement issued on Wednesday by the US Secretary of State, Mr. Antony Blinken, said over the past five months, the 24 March humanitarian truce declared by the Government of Ethiopia and reciprocated by the TPLF had reduced violence and cleared the way for delivery of humanitarian assistance in the Afar, Amhara, and Tigray regions of Ethiopia. 

"Respect for this truce over the past five months has saved countless lives and enabled assistance to reach tens of thousands," he said. 

However, "recent provocations on the battlefield, bellicose rhetoric, and the lack of a durable ceasefire now threaten this progress", Mr. Blinken said.

He added that they also delay the establishment of an inclusive political process to achieve progress towards common security and prosperity for all Ethiopians. 

"A return to active conflict would result in widespread suffering, human rights abuses, and further economic hardships, while playing into the hands of those that seek to undermine Ethiopia’s peace and security," Mr. Blinken warned.

He said the US has noted the Government of Ethiopia’s establishment of a negotiating team and its stated willingness to go to talks and asked all parties to respect the provision of food and fuel by humanitarian actors and refrain from militarising humanitarian relief and to work towards restoration of basic services for those in need.

Mr. Blinken said: "The United States remains fully committed to the unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ethiopia and seeks peace and stability in Ethiopia. 

"We stand ready to work with all Ethiopians to navigate the full range of challenges the country faces, which include overcoming an historic drought and promoting regional security."

The US Secretary of State said his country is the largest contributor of humanitarian assistance, reflecting its commitment to reach all regions and people of Ethiopia in need. 

Last year, the United States provided nearly $1.2 billion in development and humanitarian support for the Ethiopian people, including not only northern Ethiopia but every corner of the country, in support of drought relief, food security, peace-building, health, education, technology transfers, and training.

Both sides on Wednesday blamed each other for starting the war again.

The Government said the TPLF launched offensives on the eastern front on Wednesday morning, at 5am.

The Government Communication Service said in a statement that the TPLF, ignoring all of the peace alternatives presented by the Government, continued its "recent provocations" and launched an attack in Bisober, Zobel, and Tekulesh directions.

"They officially violated the ceasefire with their actions. Both their attack and the subsequent statement indicate that they were preparing for the provocation,” the statement said.

"With this offensive the terrorist group has officially broken the humanitarian ceasefire."

The Government also claimed the Ethiopian Air Force had shot down a plane that was delivering arms to the TPLF, but the TPLF has denied it.

In his first comment on the renewed fighting, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said he is  "saddened and shocked" at the development and called for an immediate ceasefire.

Speaking to reporters, he said Ethiopians, Tigrayans, Amharas, Oromos, and Afars have already suffered too much in the war that started in November 2020.

"I am deeply shocked and saddened by the news of the resumption of hostilities in Ethiopia," he said.

"My strong appeal is for an immediate cessation of hostilities and for the resumption of peace talks between the government and the TPLF with, at the same time, the full guarantee of humanitarian access to people in need and the reestablishment of public services," Mr. Guterres said.

The conflict between the Addis Ababa government and TPLF started on 4 November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military offensive after TPLF forces attacked a federal army base. 

Fighting has sparked massive displacement, widespread destruction of livelihoods and infrastructure, loss of employment and a huge humanitarian crisis.

Ethiopia declared a unilateral ceasefire in June 2021 but tension has remained between the two sides.

-0- PANA MA 25Aug2022