Today marks one year since the start of conflict in Tigray, which has engulfed northern Ethiopia and is now one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. An estimated seven million people are facing severe food insecurity in Tigray, Afar, and Amhara. In Tigray alone, 5.2 million out of 6 million people—or 90 percent of the population—are in need of aid, and up to 900,000 people are facing famine-like conditions. After going days without food, people are resorting to eating leaves. More than two million people have fled their homes.
Over the course of the past year, fighting has devastated Tigray and has now escalated in Amhara and Afar, threatening vulnerable people who are already sheltering in schools and other sites after fleeing their homes to escape earlier fighting. Every day, the war brings new assaults on the Ethiopian people, and these latest developments are no exception. The United States condemns the TPLF’s further expansion of the war outside of Tigray and continues to call on the TPLF to halt its advances and withdraw from Afar and Amhara. Echoing the message delivered this week by the U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman, we strongly oppose any TPLF move to Addis Ababa, or attempt by the TPLF to besiege Addis Ababa.
Amid these developments, we are extremely alarmed by reports of increasing rhetoric inciting violence against people based on their ethnicity and of house-to-house searches being conducted in Addis Ababa and the arbitrary detention of Tigrayans. The government has significantly accelerated efforts to quiet its critics and anyone deemed a threat to the state, going so far as asking people to turn in their neighbors. We are following these reports closely and urge Ethiopian authorities and all those in positions of power to take action to stop growing hate speech and calls to violence and prevent violations of human rights. We also call for the immediate release of all those arbitrarily and unjustly detained. Ethnic targeting is tearing at the fabric of Ethiopian society. Deliberate efforts to create chasms between people based on their ethnicity is a threat to the integrity of the country. The Ethiopian people deserve rule of law and due process from their government rather than indiscriminate detentions.
Since the start of the conflict, the United States has been committed to helping the Ethiopian people. The U.S. is the largest donor in Ethiopia, including approximately $663 million in life-saving humanitarian assistance for the northern Ethiopia response. USAID and its partners have worked tirelessly to help the people who have been affected by this crisis by delivering food, treatment for malnutrition, safe drinking water, medical support, shelter, critical relief supplies, and protection for the most vulnerable.
I am immensely grateful for those who have served on the frontlines of what is one of the world’s most dangerous conflicts for aid workers. These brave humanitarians face vilification, harassment, targeting, and intimidation by various parties to the conflict - and yet they remain dedicated to helping others.
The humanitarian community has faced relentless and unnecessary hurdles from all parties to the conflict while trying to deliver aid to those most in need. For months, the Government of Ethiopia has created de facto blockades, making communications, banking, and other vital services needed for aid efforts almost non-existent. Practically no fuel, cash, medicines, or medical supplies have entered Tigray in months. Recently, the TPLF has also restricted aid delivery into areas under their control. The challenges have forced humanitarian organizations to significantly scale back or halt their programs - as lives hang in the balance. We need to see meaningful action by the Government of Ethiopia and the TPLF so that life-saving aid can reach the millions of those in dire need.
A year since the start of the conflict, the United States and an increasing number of governments and multilateral bodies around the world continue to emphasize that there is no military solution to this conflict. All parties need to move beyond the rhetoric and finger-pointing to come to a negotiated peace. Millions of lives depend on it, and only then will the needless suffering start to end.
For the latest updates on U.S. humanitarian assistance in northern Ethiopia, visit: https://www.usaid.gov/humanitarian-assistance/ethiopia.