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Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: United States hopeful for humanitarian access to region | World News

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The United States’ emissary to Ethiopia, Senator Chris Coons, says he is optimistic there will be humanitarian access to the Tigray region soon.

Mr Coons described his trip to the country as successful after meeting with Ethiopia’s senior leaders in Addis Ababa.

It comes amid growing concern about the deteriorating security situation and accusations of widespread human rights violations.

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Eritrean army attack refugee camps in Tirgray

Mr Coons, a senator from Delaware, was sent by President Joe Biden.

The US State Department has accused forces aligned to the government of carrying out “ethnic cleansing”.

He was there to express the growing alarm in Washington at the direction the country was taking – a key area in the Horn of Africa, which could destabilise the entire region if the violence spreads.

The mission shows a return to the area in American policy after the Trump years and a recommitment that the US will not ignore democratic abuses and human rights violations from its global partners.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 after he brought peace to the troubled country, which seemed to be spiralling into ethnic warfare.

Ethiopia map
The location of Tigray within Ethiopia. Eritrea is to the north of the red area

But his reputation has been tarnished by the conflict in the Tigray region.

Since last year government forces have been fighting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front – the regional ruling party.

Last month the US accused the Ethiopian government of waging a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing – destroying villages and making thousands of people homeless.

Ethiopian refugees who fled Tigray region, gather to receive food aid within the Um-Rakoba camp in Al-Qadarif state, on the border, in Sudan
Ethiopian refugees gather to receive food aid within the Um-Rakoba camp in Al-Qadarif state, on the border, in Sudan

Many of those caught up in the violence have fled into neighbouring Eritrea where human rights organisations say hundreds have been killed.

With allegations of war crimes the US is now calling for an independent investigation, something that has been welcomed by the United Nations.

Whilst the reprioritised US focus on the country has been welcomed in the region there are widespread fears the security situation is actually worsening.

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Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: ‘I have no bed’

The UN today warned in a briefing to members that there have been targeted killings of civilians, more than 500 recent rape cases documented and widespread food insecurity – many children are on the brink of starvation, it’s claimed.

Members were also told that the full scale of the crisis affecting Tigray’s six million people is still unknown because of communication blackouts in large areas and a lack of access.

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