Blinken presses Ethiopia reconciliation, offers aid on post-war visit
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday urged Ethiopia to ensure accountability over the brutal Tigray conflict but voiced guarded optimism at preserving peace, on a trip that marked an easing of a wartime rift between the longtime allies.
On the latest trip by a senior US official to Africa as China and Russia makes inroads on the continent, Blinken offered $331 million in new humanitarian aid but stopped short of backing Ethiopia’s readmission to a major trade pact.
The top US diplomat said greater economic relations with Ethiopia depended on its commitment to both “reconciliation and accountability” over the war, which the United States estimates has cost about 500,000 lives.
“Getting to justice, bringing people together, that’s the way to make sure that peace lasts and that people can move on with their lives and the country can really move forward,” Blinken told reporters after a day of talks.
He met for an unusually long two and a half hours with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was angered during the war after Blinken alleged that crimes against humanity had been committed.
Blinken also met representatives of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and said that both sides voiced commitments to implementing the November 2 peace accord brokered in South Africa by the African Union, with US support.
He also held talks with human rights groups and said they had reported “a very significant drop in human rights violations and abuses in Tigray” since the agreement.
“That doesn’t mean that they have been eliminated and, indeed, we strongly urge all parties to the conflict to do everything possible to ensure that they cease entirely,” Blinken said.
Abiy, who did not let journalists into his meeting with Blinken, wrote on Twitter that he agreed with him to “strengthen the longstanding bilateral relations (between) our countries with a commitment to partnership”.
– ‘Life-saving support’ –
Blinken announced new humanitarian assistance worth more than $331 million to Ethiopia, which is also grappling with a record drought in its southern and southeastern regions.
“This funding will provide life-saving support to those displaced and affected by conflict, drought, and food insecurity in Ethiopia,” Blinken said as he toured a UN logistics hub in Addis Ababa for food relief.
The new aid, which brings total US humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia to more than $780 million in the US fiscal year 2023, is intended “for everyone — not one group or region”, Blinken told reporters.
“We want to make sure whoever is in need gets that assistance.”
Blinken walked past packed split peas and vegetable oil donated by the United States and, pointedly, wheat gifted by Ukraine, the invaded nation’s flag emblazoned on the sacks, as Washington presses Russia to renew a grain export deal.
– Calls for accountability –
Abiy, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, was once seen as at the vanguard of a new generation of forward-looking African leaders, but his reputation took a beating in Washington over the Tigray war.
The violence erupted when the TPLF, which once dominated Ethiopian politics, attacked military installations, prompting a major offensive by Abiy’s government with backing from neighbouring Eritrea.
The TPLF came close to marching on the capital but, beaten back by pro-Abiy forces, agreed to disarm under the November accord.
Abiy has pledged to restore basic services in war-wracked Tigray, though it is impossible to assess the situation on the ground due to restrictions on media access.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both urged Blinken to press for full implementation of the peace deal and accountability for past abuses.
“Failure to do so will send a signal to perpetrators everywhere that the US will not stand up for justice,” Amnesty’s Africa advocacy director Kate Hixon said.
The Tigray war has been one of the deadliest in the 21st century, with the US-estimated toll higher than that from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has drawn far more global attention.
Moscow has gone on a diplomatic offensive in Africa, including in Ethiopia, hoping the continent will stay neutral rather than join Western sanctions against it.
Russia’s efforts follow years of inroads in Africa by China, which has also offered the continent’s leaders relationships unencumbered by Western pressure on human rights.
AM Live is NTV's morning current affairs show that sets the agenda for the day with insightful panels every weekday.
Business Redefined is Kenya’s premier thought leadership platform for unpacking matters regarding economic and finance policy as well demystifying complex developments in the region’s capital markets.
This is Daily Politics. Here we look into the ins and outs of everything Kenyan politics. We pull no punches and have no reason to sugarcoat anything that matters to Kenyans.
Gumzo La Sato is a live social issues show that aims to create awareness about issues affecting the larger society. The discussions range from Parenting, Marital bliss and struggles, Oppression, violence, and all matters of the Heart.
Health Diary is a weekly show that highlights different types of diseases/conditions and seeks ways to prevent, treat/manage them. The show debunks this through real life stories and also feature specialists in different fields, to offer medical advice on the same.
Letter To My Younger Self is a podcast where guests get to write a letter to their younger self, from which Maxine formulates questions to ask them during the hour-long show.
Nation Reports is a weekly podcast offers an opportunity for listeners to interact with various reporters and journey with them as they unravel the biggest most emotive stories.
Paradise Lost peeks through the story of Louis Otieno, the times, and everything in between.
Speaking of Gen Z brings you entertaining but meaningful conversations about a generation that is trying to navigate through adulthood. Join hosts Michelle, Jackie and Esther as they unravel all things Gen Z.
Sport-On is a 30-minute sports magazine show on NTV and 3 hours on NATION FM. The show seeks to give the sports “fanatics” and “funatics” comprehensive and in-depth coverage of sports both locally and internationally.
Thamani is a business show which is dedicated to emerging issues regarding micro, small and medium size businesses.
A two-hour-long live show that airs on Fridays. The show focuses on what is current in the entertainment industry, controversial and popular across all media platforms targeting those aged between 25 and 35 years.
The trend podcast highlights and captures the best of banter from #TTTT segment that airs every Friday on NTV. It's the TTTT EXTRA
The Wicked Edition with Dr. King’ori seeks to address serious issues through humour and relatable wit. It is a two-part half hour show filmed in front of a live audience
Twende is a travel show that highlights beautiful, unique, diverse locations, people, and cultures. The show offers fresh perspectives on familiar locations and memorable experiences in new ones.
This Saturday evening lifestyle show lets viewers share their stories and life experiences as openly & honestly for the purpose of shifting the culture of silence.
VIP ACCESS is Anyiko Owoko’s YouTube and podcast show on Music and Culture dedicated to promoting Africa’s most promising talent and creatives. This podcast grants you VIP access into timeless interviews while providing a platform for rising as well as established artists across the continent. Since launching in 2018, Anyiko has interviewed over 70 African music stars.
This weekly news show aims to have all sides of debate but not be constrained by it, listen to main voices in the contest but not allow them to hold the viewers hostage, entertain debate but allow push back with all due respect.
In this podcast, three widowers openly speak about the process of grief, how they found themselves exposed to the emotional turmoil of losing their wives, and how society still does not know how to deal with them.