The below is attributable to Spokesperson Rebecca Chalif:
On August 3-4, 2021, Administrator Samantha Power was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to draw attention to the urgent need for full and unhindered humanitarian access in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and to emphasize the United States’ commitment to support the Ethiopian people amidst a spreading internal conflict and still-raging COVID-19 pandemic.
Administrator Power, members of the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), and USAID’s Ethiopia Mission Director toured a warehouse in Adama that stores and prepares USAID-provided wheat, yellow split peas, and vegetable oil for delivery throughout Ethiopia, including the Tigray region. Unfortunately, many of the warehouses were piled high with goods, and trucks sat idle, as government restrictions and delays have prevented food assistance from reaching those in need. The tour was followed by a meeting with humanitarian partners who discussed how checkpoints, ever-shifting paperwork requirements, the cut-off in communications, and impediments to transporting cash and fuel were stifling their ability to reach people in desperate need as the conflict in Tigray crosses into its ninth month. The Administrator expressed her deep appreciation for the tireless work humanitarian workers are doing to help the 5.2 million people in Tigray who are relying on aid for survival.
Later in the day, the Administrator toured the USAID supported Chanco Health Center/Maychew Health Center accompanied by Dr. Lia Tadesse, Ethiopian Minister of Health. During the visit, the group spoke with health care providers and discussed the challenge of delivering services to Ethiopians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Administrator also spoke with USAID implementing partners who outlined specific USAID investments in global health initiatives. In a meeting with Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the Administrator discussed the importance of strengthening ties between USAID and the Africa CDC, the need to increase capacity for manufacturing vaccines in Africa, and the urgency of distributing COVID vaccines in Ethiopia and across the continent.
Administrator Power met with Ethiopia’s Minister of Peace Muferiat Kamil, where the Administrator stressed the United States’ multi-decade commitment to the welfare of the people of Ethiopia, no matter their identity or affiliation. The Administrator reiterated the United States’ call on the Government of Ethiopia to remove the bureaucratic barriers preventing humanitarian workers from saving lives and the urgency for all parties of the conflict to negotiate a cessation of hostilities and allow unfettered humanitarian access. She also spoke of the dangers posed by the increasingly inflammatory and ethnically-charged rhetoric, noting as well that hateful rhetoric directed toward humanitarian workers and harassment of convoys traveling through Ethiopia to try to reach Tigray are contributing to a climate of fear in the humanitarian community, particularly among locally employed staff. The Administrator also stressed the importance of conducting independent investigations into the attacks on aid workers who are putting their lives on the line to help those most in need.
The Administrator held a press conference where she announced approximately $720 million in new funding from the American Rescue Plan, including approximately $445 million for sub-Saharan Africa and over $45 million for Ethiopia, to expand and intensify the fight against COVID-19 abroad, respond to humanitarian crises exacerbated by COVID-19, and support a global recovery that leaves countries better prepared for future pandemic threats.