February 2, 2023

Biden administration says crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region remains a “top priority” even as urgent need for humanitarian aid persists

President Joe Biden disembarks Marine One, Thursday, December 2, 2021, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Maryland. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)
President Joe Biden disembarks Marine One, Thursday, December 2, 2021, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Maryland. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

The Biden administration insisted on Tuesday that the devastating crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region remains a “top priority”, even as as urgent need for humanitarian aid persists.

“Since the beginning of the administration, this has been a top priority- the conflict in Ethiopia,” a senior administration official told Today News Africa during an interview in Washington.

The humanitarian truce declared by the government of Ethiopia on March 24, 2022, came as good news to millions of people across Tigray where war has left the region lacking basic necessities such as  food and water.

However, World Health Organization Director General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus lamented on Monday that in the past three to four weeks, only 69 trucks with humanitarian aid, or 4 percent of what is needed, have been allowed into Tigray by the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments who have been accused of enforcing a humanitarian blockade into the region.

While the Ethiopian government has publicly agreed to allow humanitarian aid to the region, the reality is that successful aid to the region has continued to be minimal as the situation continues to grow increasingly dire.

Despite challenges in reaching the region with humanitarian aid, the Biden administration has consistently reaffirmed that the United States is taking the crisis very seriously, insisting that progress is being made.

“It is a conflict that unfortunately has been going on for too long but I do think that we have made some very recent cognitive steps in that direction. We will continue to work and to press for increased humanitarian access into the affected areas,” a senior administration official told Today News Africa.

A recent report from the World Health Organization found that about 5.2 million people across Northern Ethiopia are in need of humanitarian aid and food assistance. The risk of famine is looming if no substantial action is taken soon.

“We have been working and will continue to work with all parties to ensure the movement of life-saving humanitarian assistance into Tigray and other affected areas,” the official said the senior administration official during an interview in Washington D.C

The recent humanitarian truce received praise and support from the international community. The Biden administration communicated strong support of the agreement and Amnesty International asserted that it is a positive step for millions of people and an opportunity to avoid worsening an already devastating humanitarian crisis. However, there is still much action that needs to be taken as the majority of the region has still yet to be reached with significant humanitarian aid.

“We will continue to urge all sides to build on this recent progress to advance a negotiated sustainable end to the conflict,” the senior administration official told Today News Africa.

President Biden has repeatedly emphasized that the U.S. is committed to supporting the peaceful resolution of the conflict and humanitarian aid to the region. However, many are calling for more action from the United States, African Union, and the international community in general.

As the urgent need for humanitarian aid to Tigray continues to affect millions of lives, there is much discussion about what the United States and other world powers should do to help avoid growing complacent with the mounting crisis.

Human Rights Watch recently called for the immediate deployment of an AU-led international peacekeeping force to Tigray, saying “This is crucial to promote human rights, to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid, and to help protect at-risk communities in Tigray. Ethiopia’s international and regional partners should support these calls.”


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