(Washington) The director of the United States’ International Aid Organization (USAID), Samantha Power, and a senior UN official are holding talks in Ethiopia to access humanitarian aid in Tigray, the country’s northern region at war and of is threatened with famine.
Posted on Jul 29, 2021 at 5:05 pm
Shaun TANDON Agence France-Presse
Ms. Power will meet with Ethiopian officials in Addis Ababa to “demand unhindered humanitarian access to prevent a famine in Tigray and meet urgent needs in other conflict-affected areas (Ethiopia),” Ms. Power said an explanation.
The former US ambassador’s tour to the United Nations, which begins on Saturday, will also take her to Sudan, a sign of support for the civil transitional government after decades of authoritarian control by Omar al-Bashir, USAID added.
The UN warned on Wednesday that the rations of the last humanitarian convoy to reach Tigray’s capital Mekele on July 12 would only last a few days.
About 5.2 million people – more than 90% of the population of Tigray – live on foreign aid, according to the UN.
Roads into the region have been hampered by restrictions or security concerns after a World Food Program (WFP) convoy was attacked on July 18.
Martin Griffiths, the new UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, has arrived in Ethiopia on his first official trip since taking office.
For six days he will meet Ethiopian officials and travel to Tigray and the neighboring region of Amhara.
Martin Griffiths is hoping for “constructive discussions on the calibration of humanitarian aid across the country,” Eri Kaneko, a UN spokeswoman, told reporters.
He will have the opportunity to interact with civilians and “see the difficulties humanitarian workers face,” she said.
After months of mounting tensions, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, sent the federal army to Tigray (North) in November 2020 to remove regional authorities from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
After taking Mekele, he declared victory in late November, but the fighting continued and by the end of June the rebels who supported the TPLF had retaken most of the region, including the capital.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned “ethnic cleansing” in Tigray in March and tried to put pressure on Abiy Ahmed to cool diplomatic relations between the US and Ethiopia, long-standing allies.
On Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry urged armed groups in Tigray to stop attacking refugees from neighboring Eritrea who have long crossed the border to flee their authoritarian government.
Former journalist Samantha Power was appointed by Barack Obama as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, a position she held from 2013 to 2017.
In Sudan, she meets Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and the President of the Transitional Sovereign Council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, at the head of the country preparing for the 2022 elections.
The US official will “look into ways to expand USAID support for Sudan’s transition to civil democracy” and give a speech in Khartoum on that transition, the agency said.
It must also meet Ethiopian refugees who fled the conflict in Tigray to settle in Darfur, a region devastated since 2003 by a conflict condemned by Washington as genocide of ethnic minorities in that east African country.