Delaware Senator Chris Coons heads to Ethiopia on behalf of President Biden
March 18, 2021. UPDATED March 19, 2021
The White House announced Thursday Democratic Senator Christopher Coons, of Delaware is traveling to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on behalf of President Biden to meet with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali apropos the evolving civil tensions unfolding in Tigray.
During his visit with Premier Ahmed, Senator Coons, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will relay President Biden’s “grave concerns” regarding the current humanitarian crisis and human rights abuses in the Tigray region and the risk of broader instability in the Horn of Africa. He will also seek counsel with the African Union on how to advance the region’s shared interests on peace and prosperity, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated in a statement.
Speaking about Senator Coons’ trip to Ethiopia, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member, Republican Senator Jim Risch of Idaho said on twitter that he is “pleased Chris Coons has traveled to Ethiopia to further U.S. diplomatic efforts there. The humanitarian crisis from the conflict in Tigray and elsewhere in Ethiopia is deeply troubling. The additional U.S. assistance announced today will help approximately 4.5 million people in need.”
Secretary Blinken announced the U.S. will be proving nearly $52 million additional humanitarian funding aid to the country to help deal and manage the disaster in the Tigray region. The U.S. has provided an estimated $153 million up to date in humanitarian aid since the crisis began in November 2020.
The latest funding will allow the U.S. Agency for International Development and its international humanitarian partners working in the region to provide help in the form of lifesaving protection, shelter, essential health care, emergency food aid, water, sanitation, and hygiene services to an estimated 4.5 million people in need in Tigray and nearly 62,000 refugees who have fled to Sudan. The partners will also help displaced families, who were separated due to the conflict, reunite with their family members.
The Tigray crisis, which began last November as a fraught civil tensions between the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, has quickly snowballed into a major humanitarian disaster that has left millions of people displaced, injured and killed.
As the crisis continues to worsen, there’s huge outcry and cessation calls from the Ethiopian diaspora and international community to the Ethiopian government to pull out armed forces from Tigray and end the growing massacre.
In an open letter to the Ethiopian government, Berhane Kidanemariam, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Ethiopia Embassy in Washington D.C. resigned from his post last week in protest of the ongoing crisis in Tigray. “I resign from my post in protest of the genocidal war in Tigray and in protest of all the oppression and destruction the government is inflicting on the rest of Ethiopia,” Kidanemariam said in the letter.
Secretary Blinken, who has urged Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to step up its peacemaker act at home and call off the armed forces in Tigray, said “the humanitarian situation will continue to worsen without a political solution.” He urged for “a cessation of hostilities, the immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces, and an end to the Ethiopian government’s deployment of Amhara regional forces in Tigray” as first essential steps to ending the crisis.
“There needs to be accountability for all those responsible for human rights abuses and atrocities, whether they be in the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Tigray People’s Liberation Front forces, Eritrea Defense Forces, or Amhara regional forces,” he stated.
Ethiopia has been one of America’s longterm and strongest regional security and peace partners and democratic allies in the East African-Horn of African region. However, the evolving civil tensions and humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region seems to be causing some upset between the two old allies on how best to address and curb the Tigray situation before it snowballs into mass genocide.
The United Nation Secretary General Antonio Guterres, other world leaders and the international community have also expressed great concern for the situation in Tigray, urging the Ethiopian government to take urgent steps to alleviate the humanitarian situation and extend the necessary protections to the population at risk in affected region.
The Secretary said the U.S. and the international community are keenly observing the situation to ensure that the Ethiopia’s government “honors its public commitments to permit both independent international and domestic investigations of the abuses and hold the responsible parties accountable.remains gravely concerned about the worsening humanitarian crisis in Tigray.”
“While we acknowledge public commitments and progress made by the Government of Ethiopia on increasing humanitarian access, the international community must see follow-through on all commitments, including lifting restrictions on the import and use of communications equipment by humanitarian organizations and providing extended visas for international humanitarian workers. Immediate, full, safe, and unhindered access for humanitarian organizations and workers is essential to provide timely, needs-based assistance to those affected by the conflict,” said Secretary Blinken.
Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team will remain deployed in Ethiopia to support U.S. humanitarian response efforts.