NAIROBI (Somaliguardian) – US president Joe Biden is deeply concerned about the situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray region where fighting between federal troops bolstered by Eritrean troops and Tigray forces is still raging on, the White House has said on Thursday.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki briefing reports in Washington said Biden was “deeply concerned” and “highly engaged” on the humanitarian crisis in the war-hit northern Ethiopian region.
Biden called for a full and independent investigation into human rights abuses and war crimes in the region, after recent reports revealed horrendous atrocities committed against residents in the region by the allied forces.
The remarks have come a day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned “ethnic cleansing” in Tigray on Wednesday and called for the withdrawal of Eritrean and Amhara forces bolstering Ethiopian army from the region.
It comes a day after a European Union delegation visited the region’s mountainous capital, Mekelle while streets of the city were deserted after residents had been given stay at home orders. The delegation met with members of the region’s interim administration and demanded unfettered humanitarian and media access, an independent investigation into human rights abuses and withdrawal of Eritrean forces.
Electricity, telephone lines and the internet had been cut off before the delegation’s visit on Wednesday, the first trip of its kind since the war erupted in Tigray on November last year.
Germany has added its voice to the growing calls for the pullout of Eritrean forces from the northern Ethiopian region on Thursday and demanded an investigation into crimes against humanity committed by the Eritrean and Ethiopian forces.
More on Ethiopia
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has condemned “ethnic cleansing” in Ethiopia’s war-hit Tigray region, calling for “full accountability” and the withdrawal of troops from neighboring Eritrea and other forces.
Blinken testifying before Congress on Wednesday said he wanted security forces in the region “that will not abuse the human rights of the people of Tigray, or commit acts of ethnic cleansing which we’ve seen in western Tigray”.
The US Secretary of State citing “very credible” reports of ongoing atrocities and human rights abuses in the northern Ethiopian region, called for “an independent investigation into what took place there” and “reconciliation process so that the country can move forward politically”.
Antony Blinken’s remarks have come after reports emerged of allied Ethiopian and Eritrean forces committing atrocities against humanity including mass killings and gang rapes in many of the cities in Tigray region, where a war is still raging on.
“We have, as you known, forces from Eritrea over there, and we have forces from adjoining [Ethiopian] region, Amhara, that are there. They need to come out,” Blinken said.
Eritrea earlier denied that its forces were present in the Ethiopian region and dismissed reports suggesting its involvement in the war raging in Tigray as baseless claims.
Ethiopa killed or captured most of former Tigrayan leaders with the rest being pursued, Ethiopian ambassador to Sudan Yibeltal Aemero said on Wednesday.
“We killed and captured most of the Tigrayan leaders and the rest are being pursued, Yibeltal said, adding that the Tigray region is under control and “we are trying to rebuild it.”
Following reports that the Ethiopian and Eritrean forces in the region committed atrocities against humanity, the ambassador accused the Tigrayan rebels of committing massacres against the army.
Amid debate over who started the war in the region and after recent reports suggested that Eritrean forces crossed over to the Ethiopian border days before Tigray forces attacked an Ethiopian army base in Mekelle, Yibeltal Aemero reiterated that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) expelled the army from the region before Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a “law enforcement” operation in November last year.
Ethiopian ambassador in Khartoum accused the Tigray rebels of going ahead with the region’s seccession from the rest of the country, though the leaders of Tigrayan forces have not yet announced such an intention.
“Four million people in Tigray have received humanitarian aid,” the ambassador said.
“A committee to investigate crimes committed against residents of the Tigray region will be formed.”
Tigray regional forces have attacked an Ethiopian government logistical operations centre in the capital of the war-hit region of Tigray, journalist Martin Plaut has reported on Wednesday.
An Ethiopian army tank was destroyed in a fighting that broke out following the assault.
The attack came ahead of a visit by European Union delegation to Mekelle, the first visit of its kind by a foreign delegation to the war-torn city since Ethiopian and Eritrean forces launched what the country’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed billed as a “law enforcement” operation late last year.
The town is currently without electricity, with a communications blackout in place and its streets are deserted ahead of the EU diplomats’ trip.
There are reports that US ambassador to Addis Ababa is joining the visit by the European Union delegation, though American diplomats have not yet spoken to media over the trip.
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