Panafrican News Agency

Ethiopian Crisis: US President Biden calls for ceasefire

Washington DC, US (PANA) - US President Joe Biden has expressed deep concern at the escalating violence and the hardening of regional and ethnic divisions in multiple parts of Ethiopia and called for a ceasefire.

"Belligerents in the Tigray region should declare and adhere to a ceasefire, and Eritrean and Amhara forces should withdraw," he said in a statement released by the White House on Wednesday. 

"Families of every background and ethnic heritage deserve to live in peace and security in their country. Political wounds cannot be healed through force of arms." he said.

The US on Sunday announced a series of actions against Ethiopian, Eritrean and Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) officials who it has identified as undermining the resolution of the Tigray crisis in northern Ethiopia.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement announcing a visa restriction for any current or former Ethiopian or Eritrean government officials, members of the security forces, or other individuals—to include Amhara regional and irregular forces and members of the TPLF—responsible for, or complicit in, undermining resolution of the crisis in Tigray.

He also announced that the US is imposing wide-ranging restrictions on economic and security assistance to Ethiopia and will bring its defence trade control policy in line with them.

President Biden said the large-scale human rights abuses taking place in Tigray, including widespread sexual violence, are unacceptable and must end.

He noted that earlier this week, the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs warned that Ethiopia could experience its first famine since the 1980s because of this protracted conflict. 

"All parties, in particular the Ethiopian and Eritrean forces, must allow immediate, unimpeded humanitarian access to the region in order to prevent widespread famine," the US President said. 

He urged Ethiopia’s leaders and institutions to promote reconciliation, human rights, and respect for pluralism.

"Doing so will preserve the unity and territorial integrity of the state, and ensure the protection of the Ethiopian people and the delivery of urgently needed assistance. The Government of Ethiopia and other stakeholders across the political spectrum should commit to an inclusive dialogue.

"Working together, the people of Ethiopia can build a shared vision for the country’s political future and lay the foundation for sustainable and equitable economic growth and prosperity."

President Biden said the United States was committed to helping Ethiopia address these challenges, "building on the longstanding ties between our two nations and working with the African Union, United Nations, and other international partners".

The Ethiopian crisis started on 4 November when the government in Addis Ababa said the government in Tigray region, led by TPLF "treasonously attacked" the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defence Force "in a foiled plan to seize power by destabilising the nation".

The Ethiopian government said this drew the federal government into a military engagement it had been provoked into.

President Biden announced that US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeff Feltman, who is leading a renewed U.S. diplomatic effort to help peacefully resolve the interlinked conflicts across the region, including a resolution of the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), will return to the region next week.

Sudan and Egypt are opposed to construction of the the dam o the Blue Nile saying it will affect their separate dams and reduce their share of the water from the river. Ethiopia says it needs the dam to generate electricity for the people and development.

-0- PANA MA 27May2021