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US envoy arrives in Ethiopia as conflict threatens to engulf capital

 

Humanitarian situation

More than 400,000 people in Tigray have “crossed the threshold into famine,” the UN said in July, and conditions have deteriorated since then.

The UN estimates 100 trucks of food and non-food aid must reach Tigray each day but none have arrived since October 18.

Basic services including electricity, banking and telecoms “are being denied by the Ethiopian government”, a US State Department spokesperson told AFP in September.

Jeffrey Feltman, US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa has arrived in Ethiopia to find a peaceful solution between Tigray forces and the Ethiopian government.

The war that has killed thousands of people and displaced millions since November 2020 now threatens to engulf Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), seized key cities in recent days and linked up with another armed group, leading the government of Africa’s second-most populous country to declare a national state of emergency with sweeping detention powers.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that “we are speaking as starkly as we can” in urging US citizens to leave the country.

“We have reiterated our calls for all parties to end hostilities immediately, that includes the TPLF. That includes the Ethiopian government. We call on them to enter negotiations without preconditions towards a sustainable ceasefire,” Price said.

Feltman, who this week insisted that “there are many, many ways to initiate discreet talks” toward peace, met on Thursday with Ethiopia’s deputy prime minister and ministers of defense and finance, and his visit continues on Friday.

Efforts to engage Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, on peace talks have failed. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he spoke with Abiy on Wednesday “to offer my good offices to create the conditions for a dialogue so the fighting stops.”

Last week however, a congressional aide told the Associated Press “there have been talks of talks with officials, but when it gets to the Abiy level and the senior (Tigray forces) level, the demands are wide, and Abiy doesn’t want to talk.”

Humanitarian situation

More than 400,000 people in Tigray have “crossed the threshold into famine,” the UN said in July, and conditions have deteriorated since then.

The UN estimates 100 trucks of food and non-food aid must reach Tigray each day but none have arrived since October 18.

Basic services including electricity, banking and telecoms “are being denied by the Ethiopian government”, a US State Department spokesperson told AFP in September.

Earlier this month AFP documented starvation deaths in many parts of Tigray, citing internal documents from aid groups.

The government blames the TPLF for obstructing aid deliveries.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been displaced, while UN investigators say mass rape and other atrocities in Tigray could constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes.

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