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US imposes security restrictions on Ethiopia

The US State Department announced on 23 May that it was imposing “wide-ranging restrictions on economic and security assistance to Ethiopia” for perpetuating the conflict in its northern Tigray region.

The department said US defence trade controls would be brought in line with the new restrictions but “humanitarian assistance and certain other critical aid” will continue.

Condemning the human rights abuses carried out in region, the State Department said, “The parties to the conflict in Tigray have taken no meaningful steps to end hostilities or pursue a peaceful resolution.”

Those parties include Eritrea, which publicly admitted it had troops in Tigray for the first time on 16 April when it said they would be withdrawn. That followed Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's announcement on 26 March that Eritrea had agreed to withdraw its forces.

This has yet to happen. “Both Eritrean and Ethiopian authorities have repeatedly promised such a withdrawal but we have seen no movement towards implementation,” the State Department said on 15 May.

It added that presence of the Eritreans “undermines Ethiopia's stability and national unity” and said their conduct, along with that of forces from the neighbouring region of Amhara, have been “particularly egregious”.

The European External Action Service released a statement on 13 May accusing military forces in Tigray of “severely impeding the ability for assistance to reach rural areas” and noted that “the use of humanitarian aid as a weapon of war is a grave violation of humanitarian law”.

The conflict began in November 2020 when the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) that governed the region attacked federal forces. The Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) captured the region's major population centres later that month but an insurgency has continued.

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