NAIROBI (Somaliguardian) – The United States has again called on Eritrea to withdraw its troops from conflict-hit Ethiopia’s north, accompanied by unilateral declarations of cessation of hostilities by all parties involved in the fighting raging in the region.
“The immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces and Amhara regional forces from Tigray are essential first steps. They should be accompanied by unilateral declarations of cessation of hostilities by all parties to the conflict and a commitment to permit unhindered delivery of assistance to those in Tigray.” US secretary of state Antony Blinken said in a statement on Sunday.
“The United States is committed to working with the international community to achieve these goals. To that end, USAID will deploy a Disaster Assistance Response Team to Ethiopia to continue delivering life-saving assistance.”
In the statement, the secretary expressed concerns over reported atrocities and the deteriorating situation in the Tigray region, just a few days after Human Rights Watch report said “several hundred” civilians had been massacred by Eritrean forces in the historical town of Axum.
“The United States is gravely concerned by reported atrocities and the overall deteriorating situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. We strongly condemn the killings, forced removals and displacements, sexual assaults, and other extremely serious human rights violations and abuses by several parties that multiple organizations have reported in Tigray,” the statement adds.
“We are also deeply concerned by the worsening humanitarian crisis. The United States has repeatedly engaged the Ethiopian government on the importance of ending the violence, ensuring unhindered humanitarian access to Tigray, and allowing a full, independent, international investigation into all reports of human rights violations, abuses, and atrocities. Those responsible for them must be held accountable.”
Ethiopia had earlier promised to provide UN and other international agencies with unhindered access to the war-torn region and welcomed international support for investigations into human rights violations and abuses. The US now says the international community “needs to work collectively to ensure that these commitments are realized”.
“We ask international partners, especially the African Union and regional partners, to work with us to address the crisis in Tigray, including through action at the UN and other relevant bodies,” Blinken said.
“The United States remains committed to building an enduring partnership with the Ethiopian people.”
The US statement has come weeks after reports emerged of Eritrean troops changing uniforms to hide their identity before the onset of a new military operation against forces of Tigray’s former ruling party, the TPLF.
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