© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An Ethiopian woman who fled ongoing fighting in the Tigray region carries her son near the Setit River on the Sudan-Ethiopia border in Hamdayet village in eastern Kassala state.
By Phil Stewart WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday called on the African Union and other international partners to help tackle a deepening crisis in the northern Tigray region. Ethiopia, and condemned the alleged atrocities committed there. Blinken’s statement suggested growing frustration with Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea’s response so far to what the top US diplomat described as a “worsening humanitarian crisis.” His comments came a day after Amnesty International published a report accusing Eritrean forces of killing hundreds of civilians in Tigray over a 24-hour period last year, an incident that it described as a possible crime of It hurts humanity. Eritrea rejected the accusations. “The United States is deeply concerned about the reported atrocities and the general deterioration of the situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia,” Blinken said. “We ask international partners, especially the African Union and regional partners, to work with us to address the crisis in Tigray, including through actions at the UN and other relevant bodies.” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s federal army toppled the former local ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), from the regional capital Mekelle in November, but low-level fighting has continued. Thousands of people have died, hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes and there are shortages of food, water and medicine in the region of more than 5 million people. Ethiopia and Eritrea have denied that Eritrean troops participated in the conflict, although dozens of witnesses, diplomats and an Ethiopian general have reported their presence. Still, the state-run Ethiopian Human Rights Commission issued a statement on Friday timed to coincide with Amnesty’s report, saying preliminary investigations indicated that Eritrean soldiers had killed an unknown number of civilians in Axum. , an ancient city in northern Ethiopia. He said the killings were in retaliation for an earlier attack by TPLF soldiers. Amnesty said Eritrean soldiers executed men and boys in the streets and engaged in extensive looting. Blinken highlighted Ethiopia’s commitments to full accountability, including international support for investigations of human rights abuses and unhindered humanitarian access. “The immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces and regional Amhara forces from Tigray are essential first steps,” Blinken said. “They should be accompanied by unilateral declarations of cessation of hostilities by all parties to the conflict and a commitment to allow the unhindered delivery of assistance to those in Tigray.”