Ethiopia: U.S. Senators Draft Resolution to Sanction Ethiopian Military, Political Officials

Ethiopian refugees walk through rocky terrain to reach Hamdayet, Sudan.

Two US senators representing Idaho and Maryland have introduced a resolution that calls for targeted sanctions on Ethiopian military and political officials, it was learnt. The resolution was introduced on December 10, 2020.

Introducing the resolution intending to end all hostilities between the central government in Addis Ababa and the Tigray regional government, Senators Jim Risch and Ben Cardin urged the " the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Administrator of theUnited States Agency for International Development, in coordination with the heads of other relevant Federal departments and agencies to consider imposing targeted sanctions on any political or military officials found responsible for violations of human rights carried out in the course of the conflict."

On the other hand, the resolution requested that the institutions cited above stop suspending any non-life sustaining support to Ethiopia so that the country could handle the humanitarian needs in the conflict.

Apart from this, it urged Ethiopia to comply with international humanitarian law, guarantee unfettered humanitarian access to areas affected by the conflict, and take all possible steps to protect the safety of civilians, including refugees, displaced persons, and humanitarian aid workers.

Briefing the media on Tuesday, December 8, 2020 on current affairs in Tigray region and humanitarian access to international and local assistance providers, spokesperson of the State of Emergency Command, Redwan Hussein (Amb.) said that there could not be "unfettered access" to anywhere in Ethiopia.

Explaining an agreement made between the government of Ethiopia and the United Nations to avail humanitarian assistance to the Tigray region, Redwan said that the coordinator and leader in the provision of the assistance is the Ethiopian government; the UN and other humanitarian organizations will only align their assistance under the government's system.

He also added that last week, the government started availing food, non-food and medical items in Tigray. The food items are said to give each individual recipient 250 kcal per day.

Speaking at the briefing on the same day, Commissioner for the Ethiopian Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission, Mitiku Kassa said that his office had provided essential food and non-food items to 250,000 people in Tigray. The total number of people that need humanitarian assistance is estimated at 1.8 million people. But, when further assessments were made to identify the needy in urban areas, this number is estimated to increase, as 20-40 percent of urban poor might require assistance, Mitiku said.

Although the exact amount of the resource required for the assistance was not disclosed, 60 percent of this support comes from the government's coffers.

Mitiku said Ethiopia's experience in dealing with humanitarian crisis in the past enables the country to effectively manage the humanitarian needs in Tigray region.

"The country could even share its experience with others; and it is doing so," he said.

Estimated to last until 2021, the humanitarian assistance in Tigray is being carried out in Central, Western and Southern parts of Tigray, where the interim government has been set up. In areas of security concern, humanitarian assistance providers are escorted by the military.

Mitiku expects access issues to be resolved in a fortnight. Redwan said that unescorted humanitarian providers were ambushed trying to move within the region.

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