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United States accused TPLF leaders 2020

United States accused TPLF leaders of trying to make the conflict global

United States accused TPLF leaders of trying to make the conflict global

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy said the United States’ main goal in the ongoing war between the Ethiopian federal government and the TPLF is to stop the fighting, restore peace and maintain civilian security.

Tibor Nagy and US Ambassador to Ethiopia Mike Rainer Responding to a question from reporters yesterday, on the situation in the Tigray region accused TPLF leaders of trying to make the conflict global.

መግለጺ ኣሜሪካዊ ዲፕሎማት ቲቦር ናዥን ኣምባ.ማይክል ረይነር ኣብ ህልው ኩነታት ኢትዮጵያ ምኽትል ሚንስተር ወጻኢ ኣሜሪካ ንጉዳይ ኣፍሪቃ ቲቦር ናጅ…

Slået op af VOA TigrignaMandag den 23. november 2020

MR ICEThank you. Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us for this briefing on the situation in Ethiopia. I’m sure you’ve all seen Secretary’s Pompeo’s statements on the issue where the United States has clearly expressed our deep concern over the continued fighting and the situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

Today, I am very happy to have with us Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy and the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor, who both have extensive knowledge of Ethiopia and can share insights into the current situation, provide the U.S. perspective, and elaborate on the U.S. policy behind our current response. Assistant Secretary Nagy is going to begin with some opening remarks, and then we’re going to take a few questions.

Just as a reminder, this briefing is on the record but embargoed until the end of the call. Okay. If you would like to go ahead and get into our question queue, I invite you to dial 1-0 and that will put you into the queue. The operator will give us those same instructions before we go to the Q&A. With that, I am going to turn it over to Assistant Secretary Nagy. Sir.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY NAGY: Thanks so, so much, J.T., and thanks also for mentioning the Secretary’s statement.

From the first attacks on November 3rd by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, TPLF, on Ethiopian National Defense Force bases in the Tigray region, we have publicly and privately highlighted our grave concern. We strongly urge an immediate de-escalation of tensions, a cessation of hostilities, and a return to peace. The protection and security of all civilians is essential. Our top priority is ensuring the welfare, protection, and security of U.S. citizens.

The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa continues to work closely with the United Nations and others to relocate U.S. citizens in Tigray, as conditions permit. We appreciate the UN’s support in this regard. The United States continues to coordinate with the Ethiopian Government, local authorities, and our international partners to ensure that civilians in and around the Tigray region have access to needed humanitarian assistance.

As of today, the fighting in Tigray continues, and events last weekend suggest that the TPLF seeks to internationalize the conflict. The TPLF leadership has admitted responsibility for the November 13 missile launches at airports in Bahir Dar and Gondar, in the Amhara region, and the November 14 attack in Eritrea.

These unacceptable attacks make the situation more dangerous, and the Secretary condemned them in his most recent statement. We have been in contact with Eritrean Government officials and are urging their continued restraint.

In Addis Ababa, Washington, across the region, and internationally, we are working with partners toward a quick end to the conflict. We’ve also been in close communication with representatives of the Ethiopian diaspora regarding the situation in Tigray.

We continue to press the Ethiopian Government to restore communication in the region as an act of accountability and transparency and to enable greater contact with civilians, including American citizens in the region. We also urge both sides to maintain access for humanitarian organizations to provide essential assistance to vulnerable groups in the region.

We have been unequivocal with the Ethiopian Government and the TPLF that civilian lives must be protected and humanitarian access must be ensured.

We remain deeply concerned over reports that civilians have been purposely targeted and attacked.

We condemn the November 12 massacre in Mai-Kadra, apparently perpetrated by TPLF soldiers and militia as they retreated from the town. We urge independent investigations of all reports of atrocities and attacks against civilians.

Those found responsible must be held accountable in accordance with the law. Additionally, we are working with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the Ethiopian Government to ascertain why several journalists were recently arrested, their current status and well-being, and what charges they are facing.

We are also closely tracking the outflow of civilians to neighboring countries and are in close contact with UN and other humanitarian officials regarding contingency plans on their response. We urge neighboring countries to keep their borders open to asylum seekers fleeing the violence.

We welcome the generosity demonstrated by the people of Sudan in hosting Ethiopian refugees.

The United States has been one of the largest contributors to humanitarian assistance to the region, providing more than $320 million in FY2020 to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UNHCR; the World Food Program; UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF; the International Organization for Migration, IOM; and other humanitarian organization partners to provide protection and assistance for refugees, internally displaced persons, and conflict victims in Sudan.

U.S. humanitarian assistance provides refugees and IDPs in Sudan with shelter, food, and access to clean water and sanitation, health care, and other lifesaving support. Some of this assistance is already being deployed by our partners to respond to the urgent needs of newly arrived Ethiopian asylum seekers.

Before I turn over to questions, I do want to mention one personal note. As some of you know, this situation absolutely breaks my heart. I had several tours in Ethiopia, including ambassador during the Ethio-Eritrean War. Just like Ambassador Raynor, I know the region very well. We have the highest regard, admiration for the people of Ethiopia and especially for the Tigrayans who suffered the most during that war.

So with that, we welcome your questions.

MR ICE: Thank you, Assistant Secretary Nagy. Just as a reminder, to get into the question queue I invite you to dial 1-0. And at this point, let’s go to the line of Will Mauldin at The Wall Street Journal.

QUESTION: Thank you so much for having this call. I was wondering if you could just help maybe set this into context in the region what surrounding countries such as Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea have at stake or have been involved – how they’ve been involved in the conflict for some of us who don’t know the region as well, and how they’ve been involved in the relief efforts. Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY NAGY: Sure. That’s a great question and thank you. Ethiopia, most especially since Prime Minister Abiy has taken power, is the linchpin in the region, of course, with over a hundred million people and a 2,000-year-old history as a state – the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa that was never colonized. It is a key strategic partner for the United States.

It’s a land that’s also the largest landlocked country on earth, Djibouti critically important because the Port of Djibouti is the main source for all overland transport to Ethiopia.

Ethiopians have been very much involved in trying to re-establish the state in Somalia by contributing both to AMISOM, the peacekeeping operation, but also providing some additional troops, because Ethiopia itself has a large region which is inhabited by ethnic Somalis.

The other borders – South Sudan, Sudan – Sudan and Ethiopia, of course, have a long, long history of their relations, and the Sudanese have provided refuge for Ethiopians fleeing a whole series of conflicts in Ethiopia going back to the time of the emperor.

And then, of course, the other border is Eritrea. As you know, Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bitter, bitter war, 1998 to 2000. Now with Prime Minister Abiy, relations have been normalized.

And one of the goals coming out of this is the United States very much wants Ethiopia to be able to continue playing a positive role in the region, exporting stability, and hopefully at some point in the not-too-distant future prosperity as well, as one of the prime minister’s goals is to transform Ethiopia from a state-led economy to an open market economy. Over.

MR ICE: Hey, Mike, do you have anything to add to that?

AMBASSADOR RAYNOR: Just maybe a couple of minor points. Nothing to – nothing to detract from what you said. Certainly, our embassies in the region are engaging with their host countries, coordinating perceptions, talking about possible approaches towards solutions. And as Tibor mentioned that Ethiopia is basically a net exporter of security to the broader region, and so there have been expressions of concerns by neighboring countries about what the current dynamics might mean for their stability as well.

And in terms of the Sudan generosity in hosting refugees, just to note that already that’s over 35,000 refugees at a rate that had been between 4- and 5,000 a day. That seems to have gone down a bit over the last day or so to about 1,500 a day. So we don’t know that that suggests any trend. But certainly, we’re gauging that the countries in the region are looking very hard at having to play a constructive role in fostering peace and a quick end to the conflict. Over.

MR ICE: Okay. Let’s go to the line of Shaun Tandon, AFP.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) a little bit of Will’s question. Have you seen any evidence of foreign military involvement in this conflict, whether in terms of troops, obviously, or in terms of military equipment?

And if I could follow up on something that Tibor said at the beginning. You mentioned being in touch with Eritrean officials. What do you see, if anything, coming out of this diplomatically? I mean, could this be part of a greater reconciliation between the United States and Eritrea? Do you see that as a possibility or are there still major obstacles to improving the relationship with Eritrea? Thanks.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY NAGY: Yeah, thanks. When I visited Eritrea a little over a year ago, I mentioned at the time that from the United States point of view, we would be delighted to have the same type of positive relations with Eritrea that we have with Ethiopia.

As far as internationalizing the conflict goes, that is one absolute danger that we are doing our best, and I think the entire region is doing its best, to avoid.

As I mentioned, we expressed our thanks to Eritrea for not being provoked when they were attacked by missiles because apparently, one of the aims of the TPLF hardcore leadership was to try to internationalize the conflict so that they could – that that would be a way to try to really fan the flames of patriotism within the general population of Tigray, and we appreciate the fact that Eritrea has been restrained.

Obviously, the Ethiopian Government is also very keen to keep the situation from being internationalized because that would be destabilizing to the entire region, which, as you guys note, historically has been one of the most unstable regions in Africa, if not the world.

MODERATOR: Okay. Let’s go to the line of Carol Morello at The Washington Post. Carol.

QUESTION: You mentioned – Tibor, you mentioned you’ve seen there have been atrocities committed. Have you seen any evidence that genocide has happened in Tigray? And is there any hope at this stage of mediation, or is Prime Minister Abiy going to fight on until he has full control of Tigray?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY NAGY: Well, because of the lack of communications, the reports – we have heard the sporadic reports of incidents, which some of the human rights organizations have characterized could be labeled as war crimes, but that’s why one of the things we very much want is an independent investigation, which will be very important when the means are available for that.