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The director of the United States International Aid Agency (USAID), Samantha Power, and a senior UN official will hold talks in Ethiopia to demand access for humanitarian aid in Tigray, a northern region of the country in war and threatened by famine.
Mme Power will meet with Ethiopian officials in Addis Ababa to “Demand unhindered humanitarian access to prevent famine in Tigray and meet urgent needs in other regions [de l’Ethiopie] affected by the conflict ”USAID said in a statement.
The former US ambassador’s tour to the UN, which begins on Saturday, July 31, will also take her to Sudan, a mark of support for the transitional civilian government after decades of authoritarian control by Omar Al-Bashir, added the ‘USAID.
The UN warned on Wednesday that the rations from the last humanitarian convoy to reach the capital of Tigray, Makalé on July 12, would only last a few days. Some 5.2 million people – or more than 90% of Tigray’s population – live on foreign aid, according to the UN.
Calibrating the humanitarian response
Roads to this region are hampered by restrictions or security concerns after a World Food Program (WFP) convoy attacked on July 18.
Martin Griffiths, the new UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, arrived in Ethiopia on his first official trip since taking office. For six days, he will meet Ethiopian officials and travel to Tigray and the neighboring region of Amhara.
Martin Griffiths hopes “Constructive discussions on the calibration of the humanitarian response across the country”, Eri Kaneko, a UN spokeswoman, told reporters. He will have the opportunity to exchange with civilians and to be “Witness to the difficulties humanitarian workers face”, she said.
After months of growing tensions, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2019, sent the federal army to Tigray (north) in November 2020 to remove the regional authorities from the People’s Liberation Front of Tigray (TPLF). He declared victory in late November after the capture of Makalé, but fighting continued and by the end of June pro-TPLF rebels had regained most of the region, including the capital.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken denounced in March “Acts of ethnic cleansing” in Tigray and tried to put pressure on Abiy Ahmed, cooling the diplomatic relationship between the United States and Ethiopia, longtime allies.
On Wednesday, the State Department urged armed groups in Tigray to stop targeting refugees from neighboring Eritrea, who have long crossed the border to flee their authoritarian government. Former journalist, Samantha Power was appointed by Barack Obama as United States Ambassador to the United Nations, a position she held from 2013 to 2017.
In Sudan, she will meet Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and the President of the Sovereign Transitional Council, General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, at the head of the country which is preparing for elections in 2022.
The American manager “Will examine ways to extend USAID support for Sudan’s transition to civil democracy” and will give a speech in Khartoum about this transition, the agency said.
She must also meet Ethiopian refugees who fled the conflict in Tigray to settle in Darfur, a region ravaged from 2003 by a conflict denounced by Washington as genocide against ethnic minorities in this East African country.