For Immediate Release
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Today, Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman, U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, and I convened an urgent High-Level Ministerial on northern Ethiopia—where millions of civilians are currently experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. This High-Level Ministerial of G7 nations and other major donor countries to the humanitarian response included senior representatives from Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, as well as the United States. Participants underscored their deep concern over deteriorating humanitarian conditions on the ground and their commitment to the welfare of the Ethiopian people.
More than eleven months of fighting have left an estimated six to seven million people facing severe food insecurity. More than two million people have fled their homes and up to 900,000 people are facing famine-like conditions in Tigray, where people are going multiple days without food and have resorted to eating leaves. The United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia, providing more than $663 million since the crisis began, including more than $26 million in additional humanitarian assistance announced today. The U.S. is committed to continuing to provide humanitarian assistance to all Ethiopians affected by this conflict.
Participants agreed on the urgency of finding solutions to a complicated set of challenges facing humanitarians and international donors, and acknowledged that the ongoing spread of the conflict underscored the need for the U.S. and our partners to consider different approaches for meeting these challenges. Achieving the most urgently-needed objectives—the lifting of restrictions on humanitarian access to civilians in Tigray and the negotiation of a cease-fire among all parties—will require coordinated action. Donors reinforced their support for the efforts of African Union High Representative for the Horn of Africa Olusegun Obasanjo, who met today with Secretary of State Tony Blinken. Participants also discussed the importance of the upcoming meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council on October 18 to better align EU member states around actions necessary to shift the parties to this conflict toward a negotiated political agreement.
The United States and our donor partners condemned the dangerous vilification of humanitarian workers and spread of misinformation about the realities civilians are experiencing on the ground, and demanded an end to the continued harassment and intimidation of aid workers by various parties to the conflict.
Donors agree that innocent Ethiopian lives depend upon the Government of Ethiopia immediately reestablishing communications, banking, and other vital services within Tigray, and fully restoring transport corridors and air linkages to Tigray. This includes allowing desperately needed fuel, medicines, and medical supplies into the region, all of which have in effect been blocked by the government for the last two months. Without immediate changes in this regard, humanitarian organizations are being forced to scale back or halt their programs, and hospitals and health centers have run out of medical supplies. The United States and its partners discussed the possibility of augmenting road operations—which are failing to meet urgent humanitarian needs due to government obstruction—by expanding air operations to deliver relief supplies directly to the region.
Participants condemned the Government of Ethiopia’s unprecedented expulsion of UN officials from the country, and agreed that the decision should be reversed. This action undermines international efforts to deliver humanitarian assistance to millions of people whose lives depend on it. Donors stressed that humanitarian assistance is provided based on needs and on the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence—principles that the UN and the broader humanitarian community are upholding in Ethiopia in their attempts to deliver lifesaving aid to people in desperate need.
Finally, the participants discussed the importance of accountability for the victims of the conflict and the potential for the forthcoming joint report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Ethiopian Human Rights Commission to provide recommendations for how to end impunity for those most responsible for atrocities, including widespread sexual violence and extrajudicial killings.
For the latest updates on US humanitarian assistance in northern Ethiopia, visit: https://www.usaid.gov/humanitarian-assistance/ethiopia.