US appoints Jeffrey Feltman as Special Envoy to address Tigray conflict, Ethiopia-Sudan tensions

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Friday announced the appointment of Jeffrey Feltman as U.S. Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa. His work will focus on the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, and escalating tensions between Ethiopia and Sudan, in part due to the two countries’ dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivers joint remarks to the press with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen before their meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on March 24, 2021. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha 
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivers joint remarks to the press with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen before their meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on March 24, 2021. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha

Ambassador Feltman’s appointment highlights the Biden administration’s goal of a U.S.-led international diplomatic effort to address political, security, and humanitarian crises in the region.

Feltman has held senior roles at the UN and U.S. State Department including as UN Under-Secretary- General for Political Affairs and as U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon (2004- 2008) among other foreign service tours in the Middle East and North Africa.

“Special Envoy Feltman is uniquely suited to bring decades of experience in Africa and the Middle East, in multilateral diplomacy, and in negotiation and mediation to develop and execute an integrated U.S. strategy to address these complex regional issues,” the statement read.

President Joe Biden smiles during his first official press conference Thursday, March 25, 2021, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz) 
President Joe Biden smiles during his first official press conference Thursday, March 25, 2021, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

The U.S., while seeking to promote conflict mitigation in the Horn of Africa, also seeks to support what it sees are “once-in-a-generation opportunities for reform,” as the “strategic” region undergoes “ a moment of profound change.”

The UN Security Council had on Thursday issued a statement highlighting the international community’s concern for the humanitarian situation in the Tigray region and “allegations of human rights violations and abuses.”

A joint investigation into alleged human rights abuses between the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission is ongoing.

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