Thursday, June 13, 2024

Washington Update – Ethiopia: Promise or Perils, The State of U.S. Policy

The House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Africa held a hearing on “Ethiopia: Promise or Perils, The State of U.S. Policy” on Thursday, November 30. Witnesses included Mike Hammer, U.S. State Department Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa, Tyler Beckelman, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Africa at the U.S Agency for International Development.

A link to the video of the hearing is available here. An excellent VOA report on the hearing is available here 

Subcommittee Chairman John James (R-Mich.) said that violence in Ethiopia’s Amhara and Tigray regions raises questions about the country’s long-term stability. He said the Ethiopian government is more interested in receiving debt relief than peace, and he said the American people are tired of being used by the Ethiopian government.

Hammer said the U.S. is deeply concerned by gross violations of human rights in Ethiopia. He said violations are continuing in the Amhara and Oromia regions. Hammer noted that human rights are a core priority of the U.S. government regarding Ethiopia. He was in Addis Ababa and met with Prime Minister Abiy two weeks ago.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Ca.) spoke to the hearing, noting that the 500,000 innocent people who have been killed in Ethiopia over the last two years is 40 times the number of deaths in Gaza since October 7. He called it “outrageous” that the violence in Ethiopia has not attracted more attention around the world. Sherman said the UN Secretary-General said that what happened in Gaza is “unparalleled,” but in fact, what is unparalleled is what happened in northern Ethiopia. He criticized those who “falsely say” that what has happened in Gaza is exceptional and ignore what has happened in Ethiopia. Sherman also called on Eritrea to allow free use of its ports by Ethiopia without tariffs.

Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Ca.), the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, noted in her remarks that “it has been over one year since the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement in Pretoria between the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, but we have continued to see ongoing human rights violations in Tigray and across the country, as well as spreading conflict in Amhara, Afar, and Oromia.”

Jacobs said, “It is now more important than ever to invest in Ethiopia’s long-term stability – which must include real accountability and reconciliation among Ethiopians. It is a key national security priority for the United States to keep its attention on Ethiopia and do everything it can to help secure a more promising future for Ethiopians.”

In addition to the hearing, subcommittee members are submitting questions to the witnesses that must be answered in writing.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) submitted questions to Hammer on behalf of ten concerned Ethiopian civic organizations:

1. What is the United States doing to stop the genocide against the Amhara people in Ethiopia?

2. Assuming you believe that the genocide against the Amhara is a serious human rights violation, would you and/or the State Department support targeted sanctions against the offenders responsible for the genocide? 

Smith asked Beckman:

  1. The United Nations is warning of looming widespread famine in Northern Ethiopia because of drought and armed conflict in the Amhara and Tigre regions. How is USAID planning to help avert starvation in Ethiopia?
Author profile
Mesfin Mekonen

Mesfin Mekonen is the author of Washington Update, a bulletin about Ethiopia’s struggle for freedom and prosperity, and founder of MM Management.

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