The United States says the presence of Eritrean forces in Ethiopia is “an obstacle” to ending the conflict and increasing humanitarian access.
The United States has sanctioned the Eritrean army and the ruling party for “contributing to the crisis and conflict” in Ethiopia, which has displaced more than 2.5 million people and killed thousands.
In a declaration On Friday, the US Treasury Department said it was sanctioning the Eritrean Defense Forces and the Popular Front for Democracy and Justice, as well as other individuals and entities.
The presence of the Eritrean army in Ethiopia, the department said, “is an obstacle to ending the ongoing fighting and increasing humanitarian access.”
“We condemn the continued role played by Eritrean actors who contribute to the violence in northern Ethiopia, which has undermined the stability and integrity of the state and resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe,” said Andrea M Gacki. , director of the Foreign Assets Control Office. in the statement.
Sanctions come just days after UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo warned that Ethiopia is at risk of “descending into a worsening civil war”.
The conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF) began a year ago and has escalated in recent days, with a national state of emergency declared this month and residents of the capital, Addis Ababa, would ready to take up arms to defend residential neighborhoods.
Thousands of people have been killed and more than two million have fled their homes since last November, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military offensive against the TPLF, which had long ruled Tigray and was a major player in national politics. Ethiopian.
Eritrea in April recognized for the first time that his forces participated in the Tigray War and promised to withdraw them in the face of increasing international pressure.
For months, the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments have denied that Eritreans were involved, contradicting testimonies from residents, rights groups, aid workers, diplomats and even some Ethiopian civilian and military officials.
In August, the United States sanctioned General Filipos Woldeyohannes, Chief of Staff of the Eritrean Defense Forces, for “serious human rights violations” by his forces in Tigray. The United States then urged the Eritrean army “to immediately and permanently withdraw its forces” from Ethiopia.
On Friday, US sanctions were imposed on the economic adviser of the Popular Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) and the head of the Eritrean national security office.
Hidri Trust, which the US Treasury has declared to be the holding company for all PFDJ’s trading enterprises, and the Red Sea Trading Corporation, which manages its property and financial interests, were also sanctioned.
“I am very concerned about Ethiopia’s potential for implosion, given what we see both in Tigray but also, because we have different strengths and different ethnic groups who are increasingly at odds,” he said. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a press conference. press conference.
“And we are working very closely to support the efforts of the former Nigerian president [Olusegun] Obasanjo to negotiate a way forward with all Ethiopian parties, ”Blinken told reporters.
Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Ghebremeskel, Ethiopian government spokesperson Legesse Tulu and Abiy spokeswoman Billene Seyoum did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters news agency.