US paves way for more sanctions on Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 (Reuters) – The United States on Friday paved the way for new sanctions to be imposed on parties to the conflict in northern Ethiopia, where thousands have been killed and millions are in need of humanitarian aid.

A new executive order authorizes Washington to take punitive action against members of the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF) and the Amhara regional government if they continue to continue the military conflict over the negotiations, senior US administration officials said.

The move, which increases pressure on the parties to come to the negotiating table and end the fighting, comes after Washington has repeatedly called for a negotiated end to the conflict and access to aid. to the northern region of Tigray, where the conflict began.

“Unless the parties take concrete steps to resolve the crisis, the administration stands ready to take aggressive action under this new executive decree to impose targeted sanctions against a wide range of individuals or entities.” , warned a senior administration official.

Billene Seyoum, spokesperson for the Ethiopian prime minister, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Eritrean Minister of Information and a spokesperson for the TPLF were not available for comment.

War erupted 10 months ago between federal Ethiopian troops and forces loyal to the TPLF, which controls Tigray.

Since then, thousands of people have been killed and more than 2 million have fled their homes. Fighting spread in July from Tigray to neighboring areas of Amhara and Afar, also in the north of the country. The fighting in these two regions has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and left an estimated 1.7 million people dependent on food aid.

“The United States is determined to press for a peaceful resolution of this conflict,” President Joe Biden said in a statement, calling on the parties to the conflict to stop their military campaigns and come to the negotiating table, to respect human rights and allow humanitarian access. .

HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

More than 5 million more people in Tigray are in need of humanitarian assistance, but less than 10% of necessary supplies reached the region in the past month due to the obstruction of aid, the official said. administration, describing the situation as one of the “worst rights crises in the world.”

The US Treasury Department also issues general licenses to grant exemptions for development, humanitarian and other assistance, as well as for critical business activities in Ethiopia and Eritrea, to ensure that the new sanctions do not harm people. suffering from the conflict, added the official.

But the Biden administration has refrained from imposing sanctions alongside the executive order in the hopes that it would spur a shift away from the military approach, another senior U.S. administration official said.

The chief official added that the administration expects an important discussion on Ethiopia next week during the annual high-level week of the United Nations General Assembly.

“This is the time because we have been engaged for months on this subject and yet the situation has only deteriorated,” said the official. “Now we believe there is a need to increase costs for the parties that continue to profit from the war.”

Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Alistair Bell and Alex Richardson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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