US says Eritrean forces should leave Tigray immediately
NAIROBI, Kenya – The United States says all Eritrean soldiers should leave Ethiopia’s besieged Tigray region “immediately”.
A State Department spokesperson in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday evening cited “credible reports of looting, sexual violence, assaults in refugee camps and other human rights violations. human rights”.
“There is also evidence that Eritrean soldiers forcibly returned Eritrean refugees from Tigray to Eritrea,” the spokesperson said.
The statement reflects new pressure from the Biden administration on the government of Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country with 114 million people and anchored in the Horn of Africa, and other fighters then let the deadly fighting in Tigray approach the three-month mark.
This week, the PA cited witnesses who fled the Tigray region as saying Eritrean soldiers were looting, going house to house killing young men and even acting as local authorities.
Eritreans fought alongside Ethiopian forces as they pursued fugitive leaders in the Tigray region, although the Ethiopian government denied their presence.
The position of the United States has changed dramatically from the early days of the conflict when the Trump administration praised Eritrea for its “restraint.”
The new US statement calls for an independent and transparent investigation into the alleged abuses. “We still don’t know how many Eritrean soldiers are in Tigray, or where exactly,” he said.
It was not immediately clear whether the United States had made its request directly to Eritrean officials. And Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office did not immediately respond to questions.
Witnesses estimated that the Eritrean soldiers numbered in the thousands. Eritrean officials did not respond to questions. The Information Minister of Eritrea, one of the world’s top secret countries, tweeted this week that “the rabid smear campaign against Eritrea is on the rise again”.
The United States is also seeking an immediate end to the fighting in Tigray and “full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access” to the region, which remains largely cut off from the outside world, with Ethiopian forces often accompanying aid.
“We are gravely concerned by credible reports that hundreds of thousands of people could starve if emergency humanitarian aid is not mobilized immediately,” the statement said.
The United Nations, in its latest humanitarian update, said it was receiving reports of “growing hunger” in Tigray and cited a “dire lack of access to food” as many farmers from the predominantly agricultural region have missed the harvest because of the fighting, and as “critical personnel” to scale up the humanitarian response cannot access the region.
Transportation, electricity, banking and other services “have yet to be restored in much of the region,” the UN said, and “78% of hospitals remain inoperative.”
The US statement added that “dialogue is essential between the government and the Tigrayans”. The Ethiopian government has rejected dialogue with the former Tigrayan leaders, considering them illegitimate, and appointed an interim administration.
Former Tigray leaders, in turn, opposed Ethiopia’s delaying a national election last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and considered Abiy’s term to be over.