Top US and UN officials are traveling to Ethiopia to press for aid for Tigray.
Officials announced Thursday that US assistance director Samantha Power and UN humanitarian leader António Guterres will meet in Ethiopia to argue for quick entry into conflict-torn Tigray as fears of hunger mount.
According to the US Agency for International Development, Power will meet with officials in Addis Ababa to “push for unrestricted humanitarian access to prevent starvation in Tigray and satisfy urgent needs in other conflict-affected parts of the country.”
Power will fly to Sudan as part of her trip, which begins on Saturday, as Western nations strive to support the civilian-backed transitional government following decades of autocratic rule, according to the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
The United Nations has warned that if more help is not allowed in, food rations in Mekele, Tigray’s capital, might run out in days.
According to the United Nations, 5.2 million people – or more than 90% of Tigray’s population — rely on foreign help.
Following an attack on a World Food Programme convoy earlier this month, all possible routes into Tigray have been hampered by limitations or security concerns.
Martin Griffiths, the new UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, arrived in Ethiopia for the first time on his first trip since entering office.
He will visit Ethiopian officials and travel to Tigray and the adjoining Amhara region, where fighters control sections of Tigray, over the course of six days.
UN spokesperson Eri Kaneko told reporters, “He looks forward to productive discussions on scaling up the humanitarian assistance across the country.”
Griffiths plans to speak with citizens and “see firsthand the issues that humanitarian workers face,” according to her.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who had earned the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in reconciliation, launched an offensive in Tigray in November in response to attacks on federal army barracks by the region’s then ruling party.
The battle took an unexpected turn last month when the Tigray People’s Liberation Front reclaimed Mekele, prompting rebels to start a new attack to retake the rest of the region.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called part of the violence in Tigray “ethnic cleansing” and called Abiy on the phone many times, disrupting the generally cordial US-Ethiopian relationship.
In a further source of concern, the State Department on Wednesday encouraged armed groups in Tigray to stop targeting Eritrean migrants who have long crossed the border to flee their repressive government, which backed Abiy in last year’s campaign.
Power is well-known as a former journalist who served in various roles under former President Barack Obama. Brief News from Washington Newsday.