United States President Joe Biden has signed an executive order allowing targeted sanctions against individuals perpetrating violence and obstructing the flow of humanitarian aid to the war-torn northern region of Ethiopia, Chimp Corps report.
Biden said his decision was in response to the growing conflict and humanitarian and human rights crisis in northern Ethiopia, which has threatened the peace, security, and stability of Ethiopia and the greater Horn of Africa region.
President Biden’s Executive Order (E.O.) declared a “national emergency with respect to the crisis and provides the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, with authorities to impose a range of targeted sanctions on persons determined, among other things, to be responsible for or complicit in actions or policies that expand or extend the ongoing crisis or obstruct a ceasefire or peace process in northern Ethiopia or commit serious human rights abuse.”
The development comes days after UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet deplored “multiple and severe reports of alleged gross violations of human rights, humanitarian and refugee law” committed by all parties to the conflict in Tigray.
More than 200 individuals have reportedly been killed in the most recent clashes in the Tigray regions, and 88 individuals, including children, have been injured.
Ms. Bachelet said the conflict has “continued unabated,” and “risks spilling over to the whole Horn of Africa”.
In the last few months, “mass detentions, killings, systematic looting, and sexual violence” have created “an atmosphere of fear and an erosion of living conditions that resulted in the forced displacement of the Tigrayan civilian population. Civilian suffering is widespread, and impunity is pervasive, she said.
According to Ms. Bachelet, Government forces and their allies continue to be implicated in allegations of human rights violations.
Reports also suggest that people of Tigrayan ethnicity have been detained by law enforcement officials on ethnic grounds, mostly in Addis Ababa.
U.S. urged peace talks to resolve the crisis.
“Together, with allies, partners, and international organizations, the United States calls on all parties to enter into negotiations to end the conflict. This conflict has created a widespread humanitarian crisis and threatens the stability of Ethiopia,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo.
Days after the conflict broke out in Ethiopia, President Museveni was persuaded by African leaders to mediate the warring factions. However, Prime Minister Abiy’s government rejected the offer.
“The claim of mediation in Uganda is not true,” the government’s task force for the Tigray conflict said, as Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni tweeted that he had met Ethiopia’s foreign minister and urged negotiations.
The situation rapidly went out of hand with Ethiopian government forces launching a full scale attack on Tigray.
The Tigrayans took to the mountains to train and equip their forces before returning to reclaim the capital Mekelle and threatening to move onto the capital, Addis Ababa.
The Government’s 28 June declaration of a unilateral ceasefire, and withdrawal of the National Defence Forces from Mekelle have not led to a comprehensive ceasefire.
Abiy was recently in Uganda and Rwanda to make his case to regional leaders. The fighting has
“The Treasury Department is prepared to employ the range of targeted actions to hold accountable anyone contributing to the deepening of this crisis. The negotiated end of the conflict will set the stage for the United States and international partners to reengage in our efforts to support Ethiopia’s reforms to boost economic growth and job creation.”
The E.O. authorizes targeting of actors contributing to the crisis in northern Ethiopia and is not directed at the people of Ethiopia, Eritrea, or the greater Horn of Africa region.
Treasury said it remained committed to ensuring that U.S. sanctions do not limit the ability of civilians located in Ethiopia and the region to receive humanitarian support from the international community.
As part of this commitment, concurrent with the issuance of the new E.O., Treasury issued three general licenses (GLs), which authorize official activities of certain international organizations and other international entities, certain transactions in support of nongovernmental organizations’ (NGOs) activities, and certain transactions related to the exportation or reexportation of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, and medical items.
“Treasury is committed to facilitating the flow of humanitarian assistance to the people of Ethiopia. Treasury will continue to work with financial institutions, international organizations, and the NGO community to ease the flow of necessary resources to the people in need across Ethiopia and throughout the greater Horn of Africa region,” said Deputy Secretary Adeyemo.