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Tigray crisis: High Representative calls for sanctions after CNN report shows military blocking aid



In an investigation released Wednesday, a CNN team witnessed soldiers from neighboring Eritrea, some disguised in old Ethiopian military uniforms, manned checkpoints in war-torn Tigrei, obstructed and occupied critical relief routes and circled of the few hospitals and threatening medical staff operating in the region.
Following the publication of the CNN investigation, the United Nations confirmed on Wednesday that “military blockades” have seriously hampered the possibility of aid reaching rural areas where the humanitarian crisis is at its strongest.

GOP spokesman Michael McCall of Texas told CNN on Thursday that “there are enough credible reports from human rights groups and journalists about the continued presence of Eritrean troops and reports that have implicated them and other armed actors in human rights abuses.”

; , rape and other atrocities.

“It is clear that the Ethiopian government and the Eritrean government have not reaffirmed their public commitment to withdraw Eritrean forces from Tigrei. We now have this evidence on camera from CNN.”

McCall and Gregory Meeks, a New York Democrat who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, have been pushing the Biden administration “urgently to use all available tools, including sanctions and other restrictive measures, to get all perpetrators to be responsible and put an end to this conflict. “

CNN asked the US State Department for comment.

Thousands of civilians are believed to have been killed since Ethiopian Prime Minister Abi Ahmed launched a military operation in November against the region’s ruling party, the Tigris People’s Liberation Front. CNN is investigating some of the reports of atrocities in the region, including mass killings and widespread sexual violence by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces. The months-long conflict, which could potentially destabilize the wider Horn of Africa region, bears the hallmarks of genocide.

“My question is, what is detention? Six months have passed since the conflict began. The atrocities continue and the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate,” McCall told CNN on Thursday.

He argues that “the Biden administration must take action now to demonstrate that we are serious when we demand responsibility for atrocities.

“The status quo cannot continue in Ethiopia. Countless lives are at stake.”

US Secretary of State Tony Blinken has repeatedly called for the withdrawal of Eritrea and Ethiopia’s regional forces from the Tigray region, unrestricted humanitarian access and an independent investigation into human rights abuses.

He spoke several times with Abi about the crisis, recently last month, to pressure Ethiopia and Eritrea to fulfill their commitments to withdraw Eritrean troops “immediately, fully and in a verifiable manner”.

During a phone call to Abbey on April 26, Blinken noted that “Eritrean forces and Amhara’s regional forces in Tigrei are contributing to the growing humanitarian catastrophe and committing human rights abuses,” according to State Department spokesman Ned Price.

Despite pressure from the Biden administration, there are no signs that Eritrean forces plan to leave the Tigray region soon.

Meeks and McCall wrote to Blinken in March, urging the administration to use its powers under Magnitsky’s Global Law and “impose targeted sanctions quickly.”

In a joint statement Monday, the two lawmakers said they were “deeply concerned about the failure” of Ethiopia and Eritrea to “honor their public commitments to withdraw Eritrean forces from Ethiopia”.

“The continued presence of Eritrean forces involved in gross human rights abuses in Tigre is a major obstacle to resolving this conflict,” they said.

Parliament’s Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Global Human Rights will hold a hearing later this month on the “impact of sanctions” in Africa.

Amid the humanitarian crisis, the State Department sent its special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeff Feltman, to the region this month. Feltman traveled to Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan in early May, meeting with government officials, the United Nations and the African Union. Next week, he must inform the Senate Foreign Relations Committee behind closed doors.

The United States has sent millions of additional funds to Tigray in response to the humanitarian crisis and has deployed a disaster relief team in the region to the International Development Agency.

The US ambassador to Ethiopia, members of the embassy team and one of President Joe Biden’s key allies, Democratic Senator Chris Koons, visited the region in March.

In an interview with CNN’s Christian Amanpour last month, the Delaware senator said he met with Abbey for five hours in two days during his trip to Tigre and sent a letter from Biden directly to the prime minister.

According to Coons, Abiy is committed to humanitarian access, investigating human rights abuses and withdrawing Eritrean troops.

“Progress has been made on all these fronts, but there is still work to be done. The prime minister has made some important commitments. I will work closely with the Biden administration to make sure these commitments are met,” Koons said.

Jennifer Hansler, Nima Elbagger, Barbara Arvaniditis and Eliza Mackintosh contributed to this report.


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