11.02.21

Statement On The Desperate Situation In Tigray

. . . . Congressional Record

The situation in Tigray continues to deteriorate.  Recent bombings by the Ethiopian Government of Tigray’s densely populated capital city, Mekele, has reportedly killed civilians, including children.  Millions of people have been displaced and many in Tigray are facing famine.  Combatants on both sides of the conflict have committed atrocities.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported recently that only 14 percent of trucks with relief aid were getting through to the people of Tigray, due to roadblocks and lack of fuel.  Life-saving medications have been blocked from getting into Tigray, which cripples the ability of the UN and their NGO partners to respond to urgent health needs.  If the government does not permit deliveries of humanitarian aid, more and more people will needlessly starve to death.  

The United States has imposed sanctions against the government in Addis Ababa.  The Congress has also acted.  The Fiscal Year 2022 Department of State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill was introduced in the Senate on October 26, and it would prohibit U.S. military aid to Ethiopia.  It would also require the Department of the Treasury to oppose international bank loans to the Ethiopian Government, except to meet basic human needs, until the government ceases offensive military operation, takes credible and sustained steps toward a genuine political dialogue to end the conflict, implements measures to protect human rights, allows unimpeded humanitarian access, and cooperates with independent investigations of violations of human rights. 

Ethiopia is a country facing every imaginable problem, increasingly exacerbated by climate change.  There is no military solution to the ethnic rivalries that have divided the country for generations.  Any sustainable solution will only be achieved through negotiation and compromise.  The international community, including the United States, can help support such a dialogue, but it is the Ethiopian Government’s responsibility to create the conditions for that to occur.  Rather than squander the country’s scarce resources on a fruitless, brutal campaign to dominate Tigray by force, Prime Minister Abiy would be well advised to listen to the international community and support a diplomatic solution.  The alternative is famine, displacement, and unending misery for the people of Tigray, and for this Nobel Peace Prize winner to be held accountable for crimes against humanity. 

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