US envoy to visit Ethiopia in effort to de-escalate ‘dire’ civil conflict
A U.S. special envoy will travel to Ethiopia this week as concerns about the violence in the eastern African country’s Tigray region grow.
Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa, is set to travel to Ethiopia on Thursday and Friday, according to the Voice of America.
Feltman addressed the situation in Ethiopia earlier this week in a media briefing, describing it as “dire” and “getting worse.”
“Without question the situation is getting worse … and we are, frankly, alarmed by the situation,” Feltman said. “Whether we’re talking about access in northern Ethiopia, in Tigray, or we’re talking about increased numbers of displaced in the federal Ethiopian state of Amhara by TPLF [Tigray People’s Liberation Front] military advances, we are alarmed. There has been insufficient access to Tigray since late June, early July.”
Feltman’s visit comes just days after Ethiopia declared a state of emergency as rebel forces from the northern region of Tigray grow closer to the capital city of Addis Ababa.
The special envoy’s arrival in Ethiopia will coincide with the one-year anniversary since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military campaign against the TPLF in Tigray.
As The New York Times noted, the quick campaign that was promised by the Ethiopian government has since become a military dilemma that has tarnished Abiy’s international reputation as allegations of human rights violations continue to come out.
Feltman also gave an address on Ethiopia at the U.S. Institute of Peace earlier this week, accusing both sides of violating human rights in their conflict.
Feltman relayed reports of looting, displacement, executions and rape being used as tools of war. He pointed to the Ethiopian National Defense Force, the Eritrean Defense Forces and the TPLF as all being involved in the violations to some degree.
“As true partners should, we’ve tried to be candid in sharing our best advice. Namely, that this military conflict, if it continues, will have disastrous consequences for Ethiopia’s unity, territory integrity and stability. And also for Ethiopia’s relations with the United States and the international community,” he said. “We’ve repeatedly offered to help Ethiopia’s leaders pursue a different path.”
Michelle Bachelet, United Nations high commissioner for human rights, echoed Feltman’s remarks this week, blaming both sides in the Ethiopian conflict for the human rights violations taking place in the country.
“All parties to the Tigray conflict have committed violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law. Some of these may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Bachelet said.
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