Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

White House says the two leaders discussed the ongoing conflict in Tigray and humanitarian access to the region.

US President Joe Biden has spoken to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to discuss the ongoing conflict in the country and expressed concern about detentions under the state of emergency, the White House said.

Biden also expressed concern about civilian deaths in recent airstrikes and reaffirmed the US commitment to work with the African Union and other regional partners to help resolve the conflict, the White House said in a statement on Monday.

US President praises Abiy over recent release of various political prisoners, and the two leaders discussed ways to accelerate dialogue toward a negotiated ceasefire, the urgency to improve humanitarian access across Ethiopia, the White House said.

Abiy said on Twitter he had a “candid” conversation with Biden “on current issues in Ethiopia, bilateral relations as well as regional affairs”.

Gov’t announces pardon

The Ethiopian government on Friday announced the release of several prominent members of the TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front), whose forces have been embroiled in a brutal conflict with government forces in northern Ethiopia since November 2020, as well as prominent opposition leaders of the Oromo. and Amhara ethnic groups.

It was not immediately clear how many of those granted amnesty were released.

It was the most dramatic step yet by the government after the country’s deadly Tigray war entered a new phase in late December, when Tigray forces withdrew in their region amid a military offensive and Ethiopian forces said they would no further progress there.

Ethiopia’s state broadcaster, EBC, named Jawar Mohammed and Eskinder Nega, who were detained in July 2020 after deadly unrest over the murder of popular ethnic Oromo artist Hachalu Hundessa, as the ones granted amnesty.

Eskinder, leader of the Balderas party, left a detention center on Friday night.

Meanwhile on Sunday, aid agencies suspended their work in a part of the Tigray region to a deadly air strike at a camp for people displaced by the war, the United Nations’ emergency response agency said.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement that the attack in the town of Dedebit in northwestern Tigray had, according to its preliminary information, “caused numerous civilian casualties, including deaths”.

“Humanitarian partners have suspended activities in the area due to the constant threats of drone strikes,” it said.

Aid workers and the TPLF said the attack killed 56 people. It was not possible to independently verify the claims because access to Tigray affected by the war was limited and it remained under a communications eclipse.

The Tigray region is one of the 10 semi-autonomous federal states organized along ethnic lines in Ethiopia, and is mainly home to the Tigrayan people who make up about 6 percent of Ethiopia’s population of more than 110 million.

The ongoing conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and is marked by a litany of abuse, including massacre and rape.

About 400,000 people are facing famine in Tigray, and millions are in need of food aid in northern Ethiopia as a result of the war.

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