06.05.21

Statement On The Situation In Tigray, Ethiopia

I vividly recall the shocking images back in 1984 of a million emaciated Ethiopian men, women and children, many of them from Tigray, who had fled the country in the midst of a massive famine caused by prolonged drought, widespread food shortages, and discriminatory government policies.  Eventually the rains returned and the refugees went home, but the country has been plagued by periods of conflict and food insecurity ever since. 

Today, the people of Tigray are being subjected to human rights atrocities on an appalling scale, and they are being denied urgently needed humanitarian aid – aid that is being blocked by the Ethiopian and Eritrean militaries as well as other armed groups.  Despite significant diplomatic efforts by the United States and others, the parties to the conflict in Tigray have taken no meaningful steps to end hostilities or seek a peaceful resolution of the conflict. 

The United States government has condemned the killings, the forced removals, sexual violence, and other human rights violations, as well as the destruction of water sources, hospitals, and other medical facilities in Tigray.  Our government has called on the Ethiopian government to meet its public commitments to hold accountable those responsible for these crimes, to protect civilians, and to ensure humanitarian access.  The Eritrean government, also, should live up to its public commitment and immediately return its troops to Eritrean territory. 

The terrible reality today is that famine, crimes against humanity, and genocide are occurring in Tigray, and they are occurring for one reason:  the complicity of government officials in Addis and in Asmara.  In fact, there are reports that the situation in Tigray could be worse than in Darfur. 

So I join with you in calling for an end to the atrocities, an end to the blockades of food and other humanitarian aid, a dialogue to resolve the conflict peacefully, and justice for civilians who have been the victims of atrocities.  The history of Ethiopia has shown that there is no solution to its ethnic rivalries by force of arms.  The only solution is one based on tolerance, and a recognition of the rights and aspirations of all Ethiopians.

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