November 26, 2022

White House pleased with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for steps taken “to promote dialogue” in Ethiopia but “serious concerns” remain about humanitarian situation

President Joe Biden delivers holds a press conference, Sunday, October 31, 2021, at the G20 leaders’ summit at La Nuvola Convention Center in Rome. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)
President Joe Biden delivers holds a press conference, Sunday, October 31, 2021, at the G20 leaders’ summit at La Nuvola Convention Center in Rome. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

Last updated on August 14th, 2022 at 09:24 am

The White House said on Tuesday that it was pleased by the steps taken by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali to promote dialogue in Ethiopia but “serious concerns” remain about the humanitarian situation in the East African nation.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki commenting on the conflict in Ethiopia on Tuesday said the Biden administration was “hopeful that recent steps taken by the government of Ethiopia and other actors might open a path to resolving the conflict.”

Press Secretary Jen Psaki deliver remarks and answers questions from members of the press Friday, October 22, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. (Official White House Photo by Katie Ricks)

“Over the last month, the Prime Minister has taken steps to promote dialogue, release political prisoners, and enable expanded delivery of medical supplies in the Tigray region.  We continue to have serious concerns about the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia, and we are focused on working with our parties — with all parties to end the source of the suffering, the military conflict,” she said during the press briefing.

In a statement, State Department spokesperson Ned Price also said the United States has welcomed the lifting of the state of emergency in Ethiopia.

Department Spokesperson Ned Price holds the Daily Press Briefing at the U.S. Department of State in Washington

“This is another important step by the Government of Ethiopia to pave the way for a peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict,” Price wrote. “We urge that this move be immediately followed by the release of all individuals arrested or detained without charge under the state of emergency. The end of these detentions will facilitate an inclusive and productive national dialogue,” he wrote.

Price added that the United States continues “to engage with all parties to advance an immediate cessation of hostilities, unhindered humanitarian access, transparent investigations into all human rights abuses and violations, and a negotiated resolution to the conflict.”

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali address the media briefing at the conclusion of the Official Visit by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia at the Union Buildings in Tshwane. January 12

On Monday, the World Health Organization announced that it has been permitted to deliver medical supplies to Ethiopia’s Tigray region for the first time since July 2021, “but there is no fuel to distribute them to health centers.”

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The WHO wrote, “The supplies, which are now in storage until they can be distributed, include essential medical equipment, personal protective equipment, antibiotics, medicines for malaria and diabetes, including insulin, treatment for severe acute malnutrition, and medicines and supplies for reproductive health. Our partner, the World Food Programme (WFP), began airlifting them to Mekelle, in Tigray, on 11 February. More shipments are planned this week.

“Fuel for humanitarian operations has not been allowed into Tigray since August 2021, except for two WFP trucks in November. 

“The lack of fuel, cash and supplies has caused humanitarian operations in Tigray to be reduced or suspended altogether, as highlighted in OCHA’s humanitarian update for Northern Ethiopia last week.

“The WHO shipments, which are part of 33.5 metric tonnes of planned deliveries, still represent a small portion of what is needed. Without access to supplies, health workers are trying to continue to provide health services with almost no medicines or functioning equipment.

“According to OCHA, health partners estimate the following supplies are required to meet the urgent nutrition and health needs of the people in Tigray:  2,200 metric tonnes of emergency health kits; 1.5 million doses of cholera vaccine; polio oral vaccination for 888,000 children under five years; more than 30,000 metric tonnes of nutrition supplies for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition in outpatient clinics and 100 metric tonnes  for children hospitalized at stabilization centres;  about 830 metric tonnes of nutrient supplements to fortify the nutrition of 1.4 million people, mainly women and children; and 15,000 metric tonnes of Vitamin A supplements.  

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks at a special session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, November 29, 2021.

“Malnutrition rates among children and pregnant and breastfeeding women in Tigray, as well as in Amhara and Afar, remain alarmingly high. For example, nutrition screening campaigns conducted in recent months found that 71% of pregnant and breastfeeding women in Tigray were acutely malnourished. The figure in Afar was 45%, and in Amhara was 14%.

Access has been relatively easier in Amhara and Afar regions with WHO shipping 84 metric tonnes of supplies in late December 2021. WHO is planning to ship an additional 15-20 metric tonnes to Afar to meet the health needs of people recently displaced as a result of the ongoing fighting on the Tigray-Afar border.”

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