The head of the US Agency for International Development has called for an end to hostilities and on anti-government forces to withdraw from two regions bordering Ethiopia’s war-ravaged Tigray region.
Samantha Power’s comments in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, came after the US state department reinforced its calls for Tigray forces, which have been embroiled in a nine-month conflict with the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, to “withdraw its associated military forces immediately from the Amhara and Afar regions”.
The worsening conflict may scare overseas investment into Africa’s second-most populous nation just as it prepares to lure overseas telecommunications operators, as well as investors for its sugar assets. The violence has spilt into the neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions as Tigray forces seek to push back against their adversaries after gains in June and July.
“There is no a military solution for an internal matter,” Power said. “We call for an end of hostilities, ceasefire and to start dialogue. Militias and special forces need to withdraw from neighbouring regions.”
The state department condemned the Abiy-backed Amhara regional government’s presence in Western Tigray, which it forcibly annexed during the course of the civil war. The US is watching with “great alarm” as a conflict that began in Tigray is now beginning to spread, Power said.
Tigray has been engulfed in conflict since November, when federal troops retaliated for an attack by regional soldiers on an army base.
Power also urged Ethiopia to allow “unfettered humanitarian access”, days after it suspended the activities of two humanitarian organisations working in the war-torn Tigray region.
The UN estimates that more than 400,000 people in the Tigray region are at risk of starvation. Earlier on Tuesday, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said Tigray forces pushing south and east have displaced 200,000 people in the Amhara region and 54,000 in Afar.
The head of the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Wednesday that 175 trucks carrying life-saving materials had arrived in Tigray. Aid trucks are only reaching 10% of the needs in the region, Power said.
“Now more than ever we need full access, more funds and most important of all a ceasefire,” the WFP head David Beasley said.
Bloomberg. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
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