US Says Eritrean Forces Should Leave Tigray Immediately

The United States says all soldiers from Eritrea should “immediately” leave the embattled Tigray region of Ethiopia.

A State Department spokesperson cited “credible reports of looting, sexual violence, assaults in refugee camps and other human rights abuses” in an email to The Associated Press late Tuesday.

“There is also evidence of Eritrean soldiers forcibly returning Eritrean refugees from Tigray to Eritrea,” the spokesperson said.

The declaration represents the Biden administration’s new strain on the government of Ethiopia, the second-most populous nation in Africa with 114 million people and the anchor of the Horn of Africa, and other fighters as the deadly fighting in Tigray reaches the three-month mark.

This week, the AP quoted witnesses who fled the Tigray area as saying that Eritrean soldiers were robbing, killing young men house-to-house, and even posing as local authorities. On the side of Ethiopian forces, the Eritreans have been fighting as they pursue the fugitive leaders of the Tigray region, while the government of Ethiopia has denied their involvement.

The U.S. status has changed significantly from the early days of the conflict when Eritrea was lauded by the Trump administration for its “restraint.”

An impartial and open inquiry into suspected violations is called for in the new U.S. statement. “It remains unclear how many or precisely where Eritrean soldiers are in Tigray,” it says.

Whether the U.S. addressed its demand directly to Eritrean officials was not immediately clear. And Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office did not respond to questions immediately.

Witnesses estimated that the number of Eritrean soldiers was in the thousands. In response to questions, Eritrean officials did not respond. The Minister of Information for Eritrea, one of the most clandestine countries in the world, tweeted this week that “the rabid defamation campaign against Eritrea is on the rise again.”

The U.S. is also seeking an immediate end to the Tigray fighting and “full, secure and unhindered humanitarian access” to the area, which remains largely cut off from the outside world, with aid frequently followed by Ethiopian forces.

“We are gravely concerned by credible reports that hundreds of thousands of people may starve to death if urgent humanitarian assistance is not mobilized immediately,” the statement says.

In its latest humanitarian update, the United Nations reported receiving reports of “rising hunger” in Tigray and cited “a dire lack of access to food,” as many farmers in the largely agricultural area missed the harvest due to fighting, and as “critical staff” cannot access the region to scale up the humanitarian response. In much of the country,” the U.N., transportation, power, banking and other links “have yet to be restored. And 78% of hospitals remain non-functional, he said.

“Our concern is that what we don’t know could be even more disturbing,” U.N. children’s agency chief Henrietta Fore said in a statement on Wednesday. “For 12 weeks, the international humanitarian community has had very limited access to conflict-affected populations across most of Tigray.”

Across the country, vaccinations have stopped, Fore added.

The U.S. declaration added that “dialogue between the government and the Tigrayans is essential.” The government of Ethiopia opposed dialogue with the former leaders of Tigray, regarded them as unconstitutional, and named an interim administration.

In turn, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the former Tigray leaders objected to Ethiopia suspending a national election last year and found Abiy’s mandate over.

Educator, writer and legal researcher at Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

Similar Topics