Resolution condemning violence and human rights abuses throughout Ethiopia introduced in U.S. Congress

A resolution condemning prolonged conflict and human rights abuses in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, calling for an immediate ceasefire, was introduced Monday to the United States House of Representatives.

“We condemn, in the strongest terms, the continued fighting and atrocities ongoing in Tigray and the increasing violence and human rights abuses occurring throughout Ethiopia,” said a joint statement from the resolution’s sponsors.

The bipartisan resolution was introduced by Representatives Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Karen Bass (D-CA), and Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ).

“All parties to the conflict must immediately cease hostilities and engage in an inclusive political dialogue in good faith,” said the statement, also calling on the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments to immediately withdraw Eritrean troops from Ethiopia.

The resolution would add to mounting pressure from the United States to withdraw Eritrean forces, cease hostilities, and open the region up for unfettered humanitarian assistance to reach vulnerable civilians.

According to the United Nations, 91% of Tigray’s population or 5.2 million people are in need of emergency food assistance due to the conflict, which has not let up since it started in November of 2020.

“The U.S. calls for a cessation of hostilities by all conflict parties and unfettered humanitarian access so that aid can flow and famine can be averted,” said a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa on Wednesday.

Pressure continues to mount from the United States, European Union, and United Nations for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to cooperate with efforts to resolve the crisis in Tigray.

The U.S. Representatives also expressed concern over the potential legitimacy and effectiveness of Ethiopia’s upcoming June 21 parliamentary election, which was originally scheduled for August 2020 before Abiy Ahmed had it postponed- citing the coronavirus pandemic as rationale.

“We are deeply concerned that the political and security environment in Ethiopia calls into question whether upcoming elections can be conducted in a manner that is free, fair and credible,” said the statement.

The ongoing violence and conflict that has been occurring in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has had a profound impact, compounding with existing issues including the coronavirus pandemic to worsen regional instability and hurt already marginalized populations.

“Seven months into this conflict, the status quo cannot continue, and a peaceful resolution is urgently needed. Millions of lives are at risk,” concluded the representatives’ joint statement, calling for immediate and crucial action.

While many have praised the resolution, others have expressed concern over the manner in which the United States is responding to the controversial situation in Tigray, deeming its approach “counterproductive.”

“The Ethiopian diaspora continues to be concerned with the rhetoric coming out of Washington. The United States should be supporting the democratically elected Government of Ethiopia to end the current violence in the country and ensure a free, fair and credible election,” said Mesfin Tegenu, chairman of the American-Ethiopian Public Affairs Committee. “Condemnation and actions such as visa restrictions only serve to further exacerbate the situation, which is counterproductive in advancing U.S. interest in the region,” he asserted.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on May 23 expressed “deepening concerns about the ongoing crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region” and announced the implementation of visa restrictions for members of the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments and security forces as well as restrictions on economics and security assistance to Ethiopia.

Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.

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