Biden administration sanctions Eritrean military, ruling party over role in northern Ethiopia conflict
Blinken said that “Eritrea’s destabilizing presence in Ethiopia is prolonging the conflict, posing a significant obstacle to a cessation of hostilities, and threatening the integrity of the Ethiopian state.”
“Credible accounts implicate Eritrean forces in serious human rights abuses, and the United States remains gravely concerned about the conduct of all parties to the conflict. Eritrean forces should immediately withdraw from Ethiopia,” he said.
The US Treasury Department said the EDF “has been operating in northern Ethiopia amidst numerous reports of looting, sexual assault, killing civilians, and blocking humanitarian aid.”
“EDF soldiers have been seen disguised in old Ethiopian military uniforms, manning checkpoints, obstructing and occupying critical aid routes, and threatening medical staff in one of northern Ethiopia’s few operating hospitals,” the Department said in a press release.
The details described by the Treasury Department echo CNN’s reporting
from earlier this year, when a team traveling through Tigray “witnessed Eritrean soldiers, some disguising themselves in old Ethiopian military uniforms, manning checkpoints, obstructing and occupying critical aid routes, roaming the halls of one of the region’s few operating hospitals and threatening medical staff.”
The humanitarian situation in northern Ethiopia remains dire, and multiple United Nations personnel have been detained in recent days.
Additional CNN reporting has uncovered atrocities that bear the hallmarks of genocide, including mass killings and sexual violence. A joint report released by the Office of UN Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission found that all parties involved in the conflict had “committed violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
In addition to the sanctions on the EDF, the US targeted the PFDJ, Eritrea’s “sole legal political party,” according to a Treasury Department release.
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki “personally oversees the command and control of the EDF, issuing orders directly to EDF generals, making him ultimately responsible for the EDF’s role in contributing to the crisis in northern Ethiopia,” the Treasury Department said.
The administration also sanctioned Red Sea Trading Corporation, which “manages the property and financial interests of the PFDJ, acts as its funder, and provides it business assistance,” as well as its CEO Hagos Ghebrehiwet W Kidan; Abraha Kassa Nemariam, the head of the Eritrean National Security Office; and Hidri Trust, “the holding company of all PFDJ business enterprises.”
Blinken said Friday that the sanctions “are not directed at the people of Eritrea, Ethiopia, or the greater Horn of Africa Region; they are calibrated to impose costs on those prolonging the crisis.”
“The US Department of the Treasury has taken a series of steps to permit the continued flow of food, medicine, and humanitarian support to Eritrea,” he said.