President Biden signs executive order authorizing sanctions against warriors in Ethiopia’s Tigray region

U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has signed an executive order authorizing sanctions against all those standing in the way of peace in Ethiopia.

“I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, find that the situation in and in relation to northern Ethiopia, which has been marked by activities that threaten the peace, security, and stability of Ethiopia and the greater Horn of Africa region – in particular, widespread violence, atrocities, and serious human rights abuse, including those involving ethnic-based violence, rape and other forms of gender-based violence, and obstruction of humanitarian operations — constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.  I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat,” President Biden said in his executive order made public on Friday morning.

The executive order “provides the U.S. Department of Treasury, working in coordination with the Department of State, the necessary authority to impose sanctions against those in the Ethiopian government, the Eritrean government, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, and the Amhara regional government if they continue to pursue military conflict over meaningful negotiations to the detriment of the Ethiopian people,” a senior administration official told reporters in a conference call on Thursday evening.

The official said unless the parties take concrete steps to resolve the crisis, the Biden administration “is prepared to take aggressive action under this new executive order to impose targeted sanctions against a wide range of individuals or entities.” 
 
“But a different path is possible,” asserted the official, who added that “If the government of Ethiopia and the TPLF take meaningful steps to enter into talks for a negotiated ceasefire and allow for unhindered humanitarian access, the United States is ready to help mobilize assistance for Ethiopia to recover and revitalize its economy.”

The official clarified that President Biden’s new executive order establishes “a sanctions regime to increase pressure on the parties fueling this conflict to sit down at the negotiating table and, in the case of Eritrea, withdraw forces.” 

“And I think some people may ask: Well, what are the steps we’re asking the parties to take? Very concretely and clearly, steps towards a negotiated ceasefire could include accepting African Union-led mediation efforts, designating a negotiations team, agreeing to negotiations without preconditions, and accepting an invitation to initial talks. Steps toward humanitarian access could include authorizing daily convoys of trucks carrying humanitarian supplies to travel overland to reach at-risk populations; reducing delays for humanitarian convoys; and restoring basic services such as electricity, telecommunications, and financial services,” the official added.

The senior administration official said the sanctions authorities are not directed at the people of Ethiopia or Eritrea, explaining that “the new sanctions program is deliberately calibrated to mitigate any undue harm to those already suffering from this conflict.” 
 
“In fact, Treasury will issue accompanying general licenses tomorrow to provide clear exemptions for any development, humanitarian, and other assistance efforts, as well as critical commercial activity in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The United States provides Ethiopia with more humanitarian assistance than does any other country, and we will continue to help those in Ethiopia who need our assistance. The executive order should not affect the continued provision of humanitarian and other assistance to address basic needs throughout Ethiopia,” the official added.

Another senior administration official said President Biden’s executive order was not taken lightly and only came after many months of trying to bring about peace in the region.

“The President’s approval of this executive order was not a decision that the Biden-Harris administration or any of us in the Biden-Harris administration took lightly. But we’ve telegraphed for months that the parties need to change course. They need to change course for the sake of Ethiopia, for the sake of Ethiopian people. And we’ve given them every chance to move toward a negotiated ceasefire to stop the human rights violations, to end the fighting to allow humanitarian deliveries,” the official said. 

The official added, “You know, [redacted] spent an extended time in Addis, talking directly with the Prime Minister, with other senior officials, sharing our analysis of the dangers of the current approach and the implications for Ethiopia and the region. You know, [redacted] engaged the Eritreans, including President Isaias Afwerki, on the need for the Eritrean troops to withdraw. And we’ve detected no signs of any serious move by any of the parties to end the fighting.

“What really strikes me after traveling to other African capitals, to the Gulf, through conversations and virtual meetings that I’ve had with Europeans and other friends, is how much our analysis — our shared analysis of the situation overlaps. Ethiopia’s neighbors and Ethiopia’s friends further away agree that there is a grave and growing risk to the stability of Ethiopia — a country of more than 110 million people — and that the current trajectory can lead to the disintegration of the state, which would be disastrous for Ethiopia, for the region, and beyond.

“So there’s a widespread consensus — outside of Ethiopia, at least — that there is no military solution to this conflict.  There’s widespread support for U.N. Secretary-General Guterres’s August call to, quote, “immediately end hostilities without preconditions and seize the opportunity to negotiate a lasting ceasefire.”

“Unfortunately, right now, all signs seem to be pointing to dangerous escalation and expansion of the humanitarian crisis.  We’re really worried that the end of the rainy season that’s upon us is going to mark an escalation of the military conflict. 

“Prime Minister Abiy seems determined to pursue a military approach.  My guess is it’s probably in hopes that, by his October 4th swearing-in — before the new parliament that was elected in the recent elections — that he can claim some kind of military victory or military strength.

“The mass mobilization that he’s provoked of the Ethiopian citizens essentially opens up a Pandora’s box in such a diverse country with so many political grievances and differences.

“Eritrean troops have expanded their presence, dug down in western Tigray.  For its part, the TPLF has been forging alliances with disaffected groups elsewhere in Ethiopia, which puts more of the country at risk of widespread civil conflict.  The TPLF presumably has a keen interest in denying Prime Minister Abiy the ability to report to the new parliament in October that he has scored some kind of military win.

“So the polarization inside Ethiopia deepens; the grievances grow.

“We just can’t sit idly by.  It must be clear that there are consequences for perpetuating this conflict and for denying lifesaving humanitarian assistance.

“You know, in previewing this decision with Ethiopian officials and others, I’ve made the point clear — the data I mentioned earlier — which is the Biden administration believes that there is a different path.  [Redacted] prepared to travel to the region to make the case and use the tools in our toolbox to encourage a different approach.  I’ve spoken with former Nigerian President Obasanjo several times — as recently as yesterday, most recently — who’s been named AU envoy for the Horn, to assure him of our support for his mission.  The time to pivot to a negotiated ceasefire and a way for military escalation is now.”

President Joe Biden, joined by members of Congress, signs the Major Medial Facility Authorization Act of 2021, Thursday, July 29, 2021, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz) 
President Joe Biden, joined by members of Congress, signs the Major Medial Facility Authorization Act of 2021, Thursday, July 29, 2021, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

In a personal statement he released on Friday morning following his executive order, President Biden wrote, “The ongoing conflict in northern Ethiopia is a tragedy causing immense human suffering and threatens the unity of the Ethiopian state. Nearly one million people are living in famine-like conditions, and millions more face acute food insecurity as a direct consequence of the violence.  Humanitarian workers have been blocked, harassed, and killed.  I am appalled by the reports of mass murder, rape, and other sexual violence to terrorize civilian populations. 

“The United States is determined to push for a peaceful resolution of this conflict, and we will provide full support to those leading mediation efforts, including the African Union High Representative for the Horn of Africa Olusegun Obasanjo. We fully agree with United Nations and African Union leaders: there is no military solution to this crisis.

“I join leaders from across Africa and around the world in urging the parties to the conflict to halt their military campaigns respect human rights, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and come to the negotiating table without preconditions.  Eritrean forces must withdraw from Ethiopia. A different path is possible but leaders must make the choice to pursue it. 

“My Administration will continue to press for a negotiated ceasefire, an end to abuses of innocent civilians, and humanitarian access to those in need.  The Executive Order I signed today establishes a new sanctions regime that will allow us to target those responsible for, or complicit in, prolonging the conflict in Ethiopia, obstructing humanitarian access, or preventing a ceasefire.  It provides the Department of the Treasury with the necessary authority to hold accountable those in the Government of Ethiopia, Government of Eritrea, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, and Amhara regional government, among others, that continue to pursue conflict over negotiations to the detriment of the Ethiopian people. 

“The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Ethiopia and to strengthening the historic ties between our countries. 

“These sanctions are not directed at the people of Ethiopia or Eritrea, but rather the individuals and entities perpetrating the violence and driving a humanitarian disaster We provide Ethiopia with more humanitarian and development assistance than does any other country –  benefitting all of its regions. We will continue to work with our partners to address basic needs of at-risk populations in Ethiopia and the greater Horn of Africa.”

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerkii is welcomed by Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed upon his arrival at Addis Ababa International Airport, Ethiopia, Saturday, July 14, 2018. (AP Photo Mulugeta Ayene) 
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerkii is welcomed by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed upon his arrival at Addis Ababa International Airport, Ethiopia, Saturday, July 14, 2018. (AP Photo Mulugeta Ayene)

READ FULL EXECUTIVE ORDER: IMPOSING SANCTIONS ON CERTAIN PERSONS WITH RESPECT TO THE HUMANITARIAN AND HUMAN RIGHTS CRISIS IN ETHIOPIA

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) (NEA), sections 212(f) and 215(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (8 U.S.C. 1182(f) and 1185(a)), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, find that the situation in and in relation to northern Ethiopia, which has been marked by activities that threaten the peace, security, and stability of Ethiopia and the greater Horn of Africa region — in particular, widespread violence, atrocities, and serious human rights abuse, including those involving ethnic-based violence, rape and other forms of gender-based violence, and obstruction of humanitarian operations — constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.  I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.

The widespread humanitarian crisis precipitated by the violent conflict in northern Ethiopia has left millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance and has placed an entire region on the brink of famine.  While maintaining pressure on those persons responsible for the crisis, the United States will seek to ensure that appropriate personal remittances to non-blocked persons and humanitarian assistance to at-risk populations can flow to Ethiopia and the greater Horn of Africa region through legitimate and transparent channels, including governments, international organizations, and non-profit organizations.  The United States supports ongoing international efforts to promote a negotiated ceasefire and political resolution of this crisis, to ensure the withdrawal of Eritrean forces from Ethiopia, and to promote the unity, territorial integrity, and stability of Ethiopia.
    
Accordingly, I hereby order:

Section 1.  The Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to impose any of the sanctions described in section 2(a) of this order on any foreign person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:
     (a)  to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have directly or indirectly engaged or attempted to engage in, any of the following:
          (i)   actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, or stability of Ethiopia, or that have the purpose or effect of expanding or extending the crisis in northern Ethiopia or obstructing a ceasefire or a peace process;
          (ii)   corruption or serious human rights abuse in or with respect to northern Ethiopia;
          (iii)  the obstruction of the delivery or distribution of, or access to, humanitarian assistance in or with respect to northern Ethiopia, including attacks on humanitarian aid personnel or humanitarian projects;
          (iv)   the targeting of civilians through the commission of acts of violence in or with respect to northern Ethiopia, including involving abduction, forced displacement, or attacks on schools, hospitals, religious sites, or locations where civilians are seeking refuge, or any conduct that would constitute a violation of international humanitarian law;
          (v)    planning, directing, or committing attacks in or with respect to northern Ethiopia against United Nations or associated personnel or African Union or associated personnel;
          (vi)   actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ethiopia; or
          (vii)  actions or policies that undermine the territorial integrity of Ethiopia;
     (b)  to be a military or security force that operates or has operated in northern Ethiopia on or after November 1, 2020;
     (c)  to be an entity, including any government entity or a political party, that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, activities that have contributed to the crisis in northern Ethiopia or have obstructed a ceasefire or peace process to resolve such crisis;
     (d)  to be a political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality of the Government of Ethiopia, the Government of Eritrea or its ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the Amhara regional government, or the Amhara regional or irregular forces; 
     (e)  to be a spouse or adult child of any sanctioned person;
     (f)  to be or have been a leader, official, senior executive officer, or member of the board of directors of any of the following, where the leader, official, senior executive officer, or director is responsible for or complicit in, or who has directly or indirectly engaged or attempted to engage in, any activity contributing to the crisis in northern Ethiopia: 
          (i)    an entity, including a government entity or a military or security force, operating in northern Ethiopia during the tenure of the leader, official, senior executive officer, or director;
          (ii)   an entity that has, or whose members have, engaged in any activity contributing to the crisis in northern Ethiopia or obstructing a ceasefire or a peace process to resolve such crisis during the tenure of the leader, official, senior executive officer, or director; or
          (iii)  the Government of Ethiopia, the Government of Eritrea or its ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the Amhara regional government, or the Amhara regional or irregular forces, on or after November 1, 2020; 
     (g)  to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, any sanctioned person; or 
     (h)  to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any sanctioned person.

Sec. 2.  (a)  When the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, has determined that a foreign person meets any of the criteria described in section 1(a)-(h) of this order, the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to select, in consultation with the Secretary of State, one or more of the sanctions set forth in subsections (a)(i)(A)-(E) or (a)(ii)(A)-(B) of this section to impose on that foreign person:
          (i)   the Secretary of the Treasury shall take the following actions as necessary to implement the selected sanctions:
               (A)  block all property and interests in property of the sanctioned person that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person, and provide that such property and interests in property may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in;
               (B)  prohibit any United States person from investing in or purchasing significant amounts of equity or debt instruments of the sanctioned person;
               (C)  prohibit any United States financial institution from making loans or providing credit to the sanctioned person;
               (D)  prohibit any transactions in foreign exchange that are subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and in which the sanctioned person has any interest; or
               (E)  impose on the leader, official, senior executive officer, or director of the sanctioned person, or on persons performing similar functions and with similar authorities as such leader, official, senior executive officer, or director, any of the sanctions described in subsections (a)(i)(A)-(D) of this section that are applicable.
          (ii)  the heads of the relevant executive departments and agencies, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, shall take the following actions as necessary and appropriate to implement the sanctions selected by the Secretary of the Treasury: 
               (A)  actions required to deny any specific license, grant, or any other specific permission or authority under any statute or regulation that requires the prior review and approval of the United States Government as a condition for the export or reexport of goods or technology to the sanctioned person; or
               (B)  actions required to deny a visa to and exclude from the United States any noncitizen whom the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, determines is a leader, official, senior executive officer, or director, or a shareholder with a controlling interest in, the sanctioned person.
     (b)  The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted before the date of this order.  No entity shall be blocked pursuant to this order solely because it is owned in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by one or more sanctioned persons, unless the entity is itself a sanctioned person and the sanctions in section 2(a)(i)(A) of this order are imposed on the entity.

Sec. 3.  The prohibitions in section 2(a) of this order include:
     (a)  the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and
     (b)  the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

Sec. 4.  (a)  The unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of noncitizens determined to meet one or more of the criteria in section l of this order, and for whom the sanctions described in section 2(a)(i)(A) or section 2(a)(ii)(B) of this order have been selected, would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and the entry of such persons into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, is hereby suspended, except when the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Homeland Security, as appropriate, determines that the person’s entry would not be contrary to the interests of the United States, including when the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Homeland Security, as appropriate, so determines, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General, that the person’s entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives.
     (b)  The Secretary of State shall implement this order as it applies to visas pursuant to such procedures as the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, may establish.  
     (c)  The Secretary of Homeland Security shall implement this order as it applies to the entry of noncitizens pursuant to such procedures as the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, may establish.
     (d)  Such persons shall be treated by this section in the same manner as persons covered by section 1 of Proclamation 8693 of July 24, 2011 (Suspension of Entry of Aliens Subject to United Nations Security Council Travel Bans and International Emergency Economic Powers Act Sanctions). 

Sec. 5.  (a)  Any transaction that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited. 
     (b)  Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

Sec. 6.  I hereby determine that the making of donations of the types of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 2 of this order.

Sec. 7.  For the purposes of this order:
     (a)  the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization;
     (b)  the term “Government of Ethiopia” means the Government of Ethiopia, any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the National Bank of Ethiopia, and any person owned, controlled, or directed by, or acting for or on behalf of, the Government of Ethiopia;
     (c)  the term “Government of Eritrea” means the Government of Eritrea, any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the Bank of Eritrea, and any person owned, controlled, or directed by, or acting for or on behalf of, the Government of Eritrea;
     (d)  the term “noncitizen” means any person who is not a citizen or noncitizen national of the United States;
     (e)  the term “person” means an individual or entity; 
     (f)  the term “sanctioned person” means a foreign person that the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, has determined meets any of the criteria described in section 1 of this order and has selected, in consultation with the Secretary of State, one or more of the sanctions set forth in section 2(a) of this order to impose on that foreign person; and
     (g)  the term “United States person” means any United States citizen, lawful permanent resident, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.

Sec. 8.  For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked or affected by this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds and other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual.  I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order. 

Sec. 9.  The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order.  The Secretary of the Treasury may, consistent with applicable law, redelegate any of these functions within the Department of the Treasury.  All executive departments and agencies of the United States shall take all appropriate measures within their authority to implement this order.

Sec. 10.  Nothing in this order shall prohibit transactions for the conduct of the official business of the Federal Government by employees, grantees, and contractors thereof.

Sec. 11.  The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is authorized to submit recurring and final reports to the Congress on the national emergency declared in this order, consistent with section 401(c) of the NEA (50 U.S.C. 1641(c)) and section 204(c) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1703(c)).

Sec. 12.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
          (i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
          (ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
     (b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
     (c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.                             JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR. 
 THE WHITE HOUSE,    September 17, 2021.

The White House released the fact sheet below on the situation in Ethiopia: Biden-Harris Administration Actions in Response to Ongoing Crisis in Northern Ethiopia

“My Administration will continue to press for a negotiated ceasefire, an end to abuses of innocent civilians, and humanitarian access to those in need.” 

– President Biden

Today, President Biden is taking further steps to respond to the ongoing conflict in northern Ethiopia. This conflict has sparked one of the worst humanitarian and human rights crises in the world, with over 5 million people requiring humanitarian assistance and nearly one million living in famine-like conditions. 

The parties to the conflict – including Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF), Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF), the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), and Amhara regional forces – have committed human rights abuses against civilians.  There have been widespread reports of armed actors committing brutal acts of murder, rape, and other sexual violence against civilian populations.  The UN Population Fund has estimated that tens of thousands of women and girls in northern Ethiopia will need medical, mental health, psychosocial, and legal services to begin to rebuild their lives following conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence.

Together with allies, partners, and international organizations, the United States calls on all parties to end hostilities, to allow and facilitate unimpeded humanitarian access, to ensure accountability for human rights abuses, and to enter into an inclusive dialogue to preserve the unity of the Ethiopian state.  We also call on the Ethiopian government and the TPLF to begin discussions without preconditions to achieve a negotiated ceasefire and a political resolution of the conflict.  In remarks to the UN Security Council in August, the UN Secretary-General was clear: “All parties must recognize a simple truth: there is no military solution.” 

The United States is committed to helping Ethiopia address the ongoing challenges, building on the deep and historic ties between our two countries.  At President Biden’s direction, the United States is actively pursuing measures to promote an end to the fighting, protect human rights, and help meet humanitarian needs:

Sanctioning Those Prolonging the Conflict and Perpetrating Abuses

Today, President Biden signed an Executive Order (E.O.) establishing a new sanctions regime that gives the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury), working with the U.S. Department of State (State), the authority to hold accountable those in the Ethiopian government, the Eritrean government, the TPLF, and the Amhara regional government who are responsible for, or complicit in, prolonging the conflict, obstructing humanitarian access, or preventing a ceasefire.  Treasury is prepared to take action under this E.O. to impose targeted sanctions against those responsible for the ongoing crisis. 

While imposing sanctions under this E.O., the United States will take measures to mitigate unintended effects on the people of Ethiopia and the wider region.  The United States will seek to ensure personal remittances to non-sanctioned persons, humanitarian assistance to at-risk populations, and longer-term assistance programs and commercial activities that address basic human needs continue to flow to Ethiopia and the greater Horn of Africa region through legitimate and transparent channels. 

This Executive Order follows sanctions and visa restrictions the United States has already imposed.  In August 2021, the Department of Treasury sanctioned General Filipos Woldeyohannes, the Chief of Staff of the Eritrean Defense Forces, pursuant to E.O. 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.   In May 2021, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a policy under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act imposing visa restrictions on individuals believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining resolution of the crisis in Tigray. 

The United States has imposed defense trade restrictions for exports to Ethiopia amid the ongoing conflict and reported human rights abuses.  The United States urges other countries to implement similar measures to stop the flow of weapons to any parties to the conflict and support a negotiated ceasefire.

The actions of those involved in the conflict will determine whether the U.S. government imposes sanctions.  The United States is prepared to impose sanctions if there is not progress toward a resolution of the conflict.  If there is progress, the United States is prepared to work with the international community to mobilize critical assistance for Ethiopia to recover from this conflict, reorganize its significant debt, and revitalize its economy.

Facilitating Ceasefire Negotiations and a Political Resolution of the Conflict

Working with allies and partners, the United States is committed to supporting the Ethiopian government and the TPLF to negotiate a sustainable ceasefire and a peaceful resolution of the conflict.  At the Carbis Bay Summit in June, G7 leaders urged “an immediate cessation of hostilities” and pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the crisis.  In August, a majority of UN Security Council members publicly backed the Secretary-General’s call for the parties to “immediately end hostilities without pre-conditions and seize the opportunity to negotiate a lasting ceasefire.”  More broadly, the United States encourages an inclusive and credible national dialogue in which all Ethiopians have a say in their shared future.

In March 2021, President Biden sent Senator Coons and a high-level delegation to meet with Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy and to offer to help peacefully resolve the conflict.  In April 2021, the Administration appointed Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman as U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa.  Special Envoy Feltman is leading a diplomatic effort to address the interlinked crises of the region.  To that end, the United States will continue to work closely with our partners in the region, including the chairman of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Abdallah Hamdok, and welcomes the African Union Commission’s appointment of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as its High Representative for the Horn of Africa. 

The United States has also provided support for local-level efforts in Ethiopia to promote dialogue and reconciliation across political and ethnic divisions. 

Investigating and Documenting Human Rights Abuses

Accountability for atrocities committed during the conflict is necessary for peace and will help deter a recurrence of violence.  The United States is committed to supporting the investigation and documentation of human rights abuses in the ongoing conflict in order to lay the groundwork for future accountability efforts. 

The United States has provided financial support for the ongoing joint investigation by the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.  The United States cosponsored the European Union’s resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in July to strengthen this investigation.  The United States conveyed further support for OHCHR’s work at the Human Rights Council’s Interactive Dialogue on Ethiopia on September 13.

The United States supports the ongoing commission of inquiry by the African Commission of Human and People’s Rights.  The United States is also committed to and planning financial support for a supplemental, third-party-led human rights documentation initiative focused on transitional justice and ensuring accountability for atrocities committed by all parties in the ongoing conflict.

Supporting the People of Ethiopia

Ethiopia has made significant development gains in recent years, but the conflict threatens that progress and the well-being of the Ethiopian people.  The United States has a long record of partnering with the people of Ethiopia to promote development, and while we have imposed restrictions on certain economic and security assistance as a result of the human rights situation, we continue to provide significant aid to the Ethiopian people.  Ethiopia remains one of the largest recipients of U.S. humanitarian and development assistance in the world, spanning areas such as agriculture, health, clean water, food and nutrition security, basic education, and support for women and girls.  This assistance benefits all regions of Ethiopia.  

The United States is the single largest single donor of humanitarian aid to Ethiopia, providing nearly $900 million in total humanitarian assistance over the past year.  USAID has provided nearly 65% of all donor contributions to date to the humanitarian response in northern Ethiopia.  In August 2021, USAID Administrator Samantha Power visited Ethiopia and Ethiopian refugee camps in neighboring Sudan and committed to sustain ongoing assistance.

The United States is also committed to helping Ethiopia to address the COVID-19 pandemic.  The United States has provided more than $185 million in COVID-19 related assistance to Ethiopia in addition to the donation of nearly 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses delivered to date.  This support has included efforts to strengthen local health system capacity for infection prevention control; reduce morbidity and mortality through strengthening COVID-19 case management; accelerate widespread and equitable access to and delivery of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations; and mitigate the secondary humanitarian impacts of COVID-19 through emergency food assistance to affected populations.

Listening to and Partnering with U.S. Stakeholders, including Ethiopian American Leaders

The Administration is committed to building upon the deep and historic ties between Ethiopia and the United States.  The United States benefits tremendously from a large and vibrant Ethiopian-American community.  We celebrate the rich contributions that individuals with ties to the Horn of Africa make to all aspects of our nation, including in academia, the arts, business, healthcare, sports, and more.  The Administration is reaching out and creating opportunities for dialogue with Ethiopian-American leaders and stakeholders.  We welcome their unique ideas and contributions to promote understanding and healing across ethnic and political lines as we seek to achieve the shared goal of a united, peaceful Ethiopia.

“The United States has a deep and long-lasting commitment to the people of the Horn of Africa.  We will continue to speak out against violence and inhumane treatment of any group of people, and we will continue our support for addressing humanitarian needs in the region.  We believe Ethiopia, a great and diverse nation, can overcome its current divisions and resolve the ongoing conflict, beginning with a negotiated ceasefire.  Building peace will not be easy, but it can and must begin now with dialogue and by seeking unity in our common humanity.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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