US calls on African Union to exert pressure over worsening crisis in Ethiopia's Tigray

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • The US has called on the African Union to help address a deepening crisis in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region given the alleged atrocities in fighting there.
  • Ethiopians from the said region asked for the end of the military conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region between regional forces and the Ethiopian federal army.
  • Since November, they have been rocked by bloody fighting when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the launch of military operations there.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday called on the African Union and other international partners to help address a deepening crisis in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region as he condemned alleged atrocities in fighting there.

Blinken's statement suggested growing frustration with the response so far from Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea to what America's top diplomat described as a "worsening humanitarian crisis."

His remarks came a day after Amnesty International released a report accusing Eritrean forces of killing hundreds of civilians in Tigray in a 24-hour period last year, an incident it described as a potential crime against humanity.

Eritrea rejected the accusations.

"The United States is gravely concerned by reported atrocities and the overall deteriorating situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia," Blinken said.

"We ask international partners, especially the African Union and regional partners, to work with us to address the crisis in Tigray, including through action at the UN and other relevant bodies."

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's federal army ousted the former local ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), from the regional capital Mekelle in November, but low-level fighting has continued.

Thousands of people have died, hundreds of thousands have been forced from homes and there are shortages of food, water and medicine around the region of more than 5 million people.

READ | 15 UN peacekeepers from Tigray refuse to return to Ethiopia

Ethiopia and Eritrea have denied that Eritrean troops participated in the conflict, though dozens of witnesses, diplomats and an Ethiopian general have reported their presence.

Still, the state-run Ethiopian Human Rights Commission released a statement on Friday timed to coincide with the Amnesty report, saying preliminary investigations indicated that Eritrean soldiers had killed an unknown number of civilians in Axum, an ancient city in northern Ethiopia. It said the killings were in retaliation for an earlier attack by TPLF soldiers.

Amnesty said Eritrean soldiers executed men and boys in the streets and engaged in extensive looting.

Blinken noted Ethiopian commitments to full accountability, including international support for investigations into human rights abuses and to allowing unhindered humanitarian access.

"The immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces and Amhara regional forces from Tigray are essential first steps," Blinken said.

"They should be accompanied by unilateral declarations of cessation of hostilities by all parties to the conflict and a commitment to permit unhindered delivery of assistance to those in Tigray."


Did you know you can comment on this article? Subscribe to News24 and add your voice to the conversation.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
As a child or as an adult, have you ever been a victim of bullying?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, at school
53% - 719 votes
Yes, at work
16% - 222 votes
No, I've never experienced this
30% - 407 votes
Vote
USD/ZAR
14.31
(0.0)
GBP/ZAR
19.81
(0.0)
EUR/ZAR
17.15
(0.0)
AUD/ZAR
11.07
(0.0)
JPY/ZAR
0.13
(0.0)
Gold
1,776.67
(0.0)
Silver
25.97
(0.0)
Platinum
1,203.79
(0.0)
Brent Crude
66.77
(-0.3)
Palladium
2,781.00
(0.0)
All Share
68,699
(+1.3)
Top 40
62,898
(+1.3)
Financial 15
12,446
(+0.8)
Industrial 25
89,364
(+0.8)
Resource 10
70,350
(+2.2)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo