Biden threatens new sanctions against Ethiopian and Eritrean officials in Tigray conflict amid reports of atrocities
- WARNING: GRAPHICS
- President Joe Biden has signed an executive order authorizing new sanctions against Ethiopian and Eritrean government officials involved in conflict in Tigray
- Sanctions have not yet been imposed and are an attempt to encourage a ceasefire between the warring parties
- Region faces famine and humanitarian crisis; help is blocked from entering
- The government said sanctions would come into effect if officials do not enter into talks on a ceasefire and allow humanitarian aid in the Tigray region
- Reports of atrocities are on the rise
President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Friday authorizing new sanctions against Ethiopian and Eritrean government officials involved in conflict in the Tigray region in an effort to encourage a ceasefire between the warring parties.
The government has not immediately imposed sanctions under the new order, which comes as reports of atrocities continue to emerge from the region.
But a senior government official warned they are ready to take “aggressive action” unless the parties – the Ethiopian government, the Eritrean government, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Amhara regional government – take “meaningful steps.”
That means all sides will “enter into talks for a negotiated ceasefire and allow unimpeded humanitarian access” to the region, the official said during a briefing with reporters on Thursday.
President Joe Biden has signed an executive order authorizing new sanctions against Ethiopian and Eritrean government officials involved in conflict in Tigray
As a result of the conflict, the Tigray region is facing a famine and humanitarian crisis
The conflict over Tigray has been going on for 10 months and previous attempts to pressure the warring party to talk have failed
The new sanctions are part of the US pressure campaign to end the decade-long conflict have left hundreds of thousands of people starving. But not applying them is the government’s way of trying to avoid punishing officials from Ethiopia, the second most populous country and a key US ally.
As the conflict continues,there have also been reports of mass detention, sexual violence and murders that bear the hallmarks of genocide in Tigray, a region of northern Ethiopia bordering Eritrea.
Human Rights Watch released a report this week alleging that Eritrean government forces and Tigrayan militias have murdered and raped Eritrean refugees.
There are also reports of atrocities committed by Ethiopian and Eritrean troops fighting the Tigrayans – an ethnic group in northern Ethiopia.
“The ongoing conflict in northern Ethiopia is a tragedy that causes tremendous human suffering and threatens the unity of the Ethiopian state,” Biden said in a statement on Friday.
“Nearly a million people live in famine-like conditions,” he noted. “Humanitarian workers have been blocked, harassed and killed. I am shocked by the reports of mass murder, rape and other sexual violence to terrorize the civilian population.’
US and United Nations officials said humanitarian access to supply food, fuel and medicine has been largely cut off.
Only 10 percent of humanitarian aid reached the Tigray region last month due to obstruction by the Ethiopian government, government officials said at the briefing.
A mass grave for victims who died in an alleged massacre in Ethiopia
An unidentified corpse in a military uniform – more and more reports of atrocities are coming
Nearly a million people in the region face famine as food and aid are blocked
Biden administration officials labeled the new sanctions a last resort, but previous US pressure has failed to end the conflict.
“This is not a decision that this government has taken lightly and our preference, frankly, is not to use this tool,” said a senior government official. “We would prefer the parties to the conflict to work with the international community to advance talks towards a negotiated ceasefire.”
The Biden administration announced visa restrictions on current and former Ethiopian and Eritrean officials in May and endorsed the Chief of Staff of the Eritrean Armed Forces in August for human rights violations under the Global Magnitsky Act.