US Blacklists Eritrean Defense Official for Abuses in Ethiopia’s Tigray

The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on an Eritrean official it accused of involvement in serious human rights abuses in the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, where thousands have died and more than 2 million have been displaced.

The US Treasury Department in a statement said it blacklisted Filipos Woldeyohannes, chief of staff of the Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF). The Treasury said it commands the EDF forces that have been operating in Tigray.

The Treasury accused the forces of being responsible for massacres, sexual assaults and intentionally shooting civilians in the streets, among other human rights abuses.

The United States has repeatedly called on Eritrean troops to withdraw from Tigray. Eritrea sent troops to Tigray after Ethiopian federal forces launched an offensive in November in response to attacks on federal government bases by forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

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Eritrea denied for months that its troops were in the region, but later acknowledged their presence and denied that they were responsible for the abuses.

The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Eritrea said in June that the country now has “effective control” of parts of Tigray, calling for the withdrawal of troops and a prompt investigation of abuses, including the kidnapping of refugees.

Eritrea Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel did not return calls and texts seeking comment on Washington’s action on Monday.

“Today’s action demonstrates the commitment of the United States to impose costs on those responsible for these despicable acts, which exacerbate a conflict that has led to tremendous suffering for Ethiopians,” said Andrea Gacki, Director of the Office of Asset Control Foreigners of the Treasury, in the declaration.

“We urge Eritrea to immediately and permanently withdraw its forces from Ethiopia, and we urge the parties to the conflict to initiate ceasefire negotiations and end human rights abuses,” Gacki added.

President Joe Biden’s administration is well advanced in its assessment of whether to call the events crimes against humanity, genocide or war crimes, said Robert Godec, acting deputy secretary of state for the State Department’s Office of African Affairs, in June. .

>> Spotlight: The plight of civilians in Ethiopia’s Tigray region

Doctors said hundreds of women reported they were subjected to horrific sexual violence by Ethiopian soldiers and Eritrean allies after clashes broke out in the mountainous region of northern Ethiopia, Reuters reported in April.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF said last month that more than 100,000 children in Tigray could suffer life-threatening malnutrition in the next 12 months, as hundreds of thousands in the region face starvation conditions.

(REUTERS)

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