February 28, 2024

U.S. says Ethiopian human rights abusers should be held accountable, warns that road to peace, integration and reconstruction will be long

President Joe Biden talks on the phone with Finland President Sauli Niinistö and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson Tuesday, August 9, 2022, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Erin Scott)

The United States government said on Tuesday that those who violated human rights and killed people in Tigray and elsewhere in Ethiopia during the two year conflict that seems to be coming to an end should be held accountable.

Briefing reporters on the progress made so far since the Pretoria peace agreement on November 2, and the Nairobi declaration on November 12, a senior State Department official said that there is a need for accountability for violations of human rights.

The official asserted that the United States is “absolutely committed” to ensuring that those who committed human rights abuses are held accountable, adding that there should be justice for extrajudicial killings during the conflict.

The official hoped that the media will be allowed into Tigray and other regions in Ethiopia to see things for themselves and report on the atrocities that have taken place since November 2020.

The official laid out steps taken since the peace agreement was reached in Pretoria, South Africa on November 2, saying that it was followed by further negotiations in Nairobi, Kenya, beginning on November 7, leading to the Nairobi declaration on November 12.

The United States Special Envoy for the for Horn of Africa, Michael Hammer, has also been engaged with all sides, meeting Ethiopian and Tigrayan officials in Ethiopia this week and holding discussions with the African Union leadership in Addis Ababa.

The official described the implementation of the peace agreement as “work in progress”, acknowledging that “no implementation will be perfect” and that the road to peace, stability, reconstruction and integration remains long.

The official said that Ethiopians will need the support of the international community to rebuild their nation after years of war and horrible destruction.

On Sunday, United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with President William Ruto of Kenya, and both leaders discussed efforts to bring peace and stability to northern Ethiopia and astern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Kenyan President William Ruto on November 13 to discuss ongoing efforts to bring peace to eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and northern Ethiopia,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a brief statement on Tuesday morning. “The Secretary expressed appreciation for Kenya’s continued leadership in addressing regional security challenges and both confirmed they would continue to coordinate shared efforts.”

On Saturday, the Biden administration said that while it welcomes the signing of a peace deal by the Ethiopian federal government and Tigrayan authorities in South Africa on November 2 and the commitments made in Kenya on November 12 to cease hostilities and provide unhindered humanitarian access to all Ethiopians in need, it’s time to act.

“We welcome the commitment to unhindered humanitarian access and clarification of cessation of hostilities implementing arrangements articulated in the Declaration of the Senior Commanders Meeting on the Implementation of the Ethiopia Permanent Cessation of Hostilities Agreement announced today in Nairobi,” United States Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement received by Today News Africa. “As the parties implement the commitments they made in the November 2 agreement and today’s declaration, they must honor the cessation of hostilities, expedite unhindered humanitarian assistance to all in need, protect all civilians, deliver restoration of basic services throughout northern Ethiopia, and begin investigation of and accountability for human rights abuses.”

In addition to more concretely specifying the implementation of the November 2 agreement signed in Pretoria, the parties further committed to cooperate and facilitate the delivery of unhindered humanitarian access in today’s agreement.

“We welcome the humanitarian access permissions that have already been restored as well as the firm commitments for humanitarian assistance to flow to the Tigray Region and the affected areas of the Afar and Amhara Regions to address the needs of the most vulnerable. The United States is the largest supporter of humanitarian aid to Ethiopia, and we will continue to deliver to those most in need,” Price said.

He added, “We commend the parties for continuing to deliver on their commitments and applaud the determined efforts of AU High Representative former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta who spearheaded this effort in Nairobi, the government of Kenya for hosting, and the African Union for its leadership.

“The United States will continue to support the implementation of the November 2 agreement and efforts to achieve a lasting peace. Work remains, but progress is promising and gives the Ethiopian people reason for hope.”

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