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News: US calls on Eritrea, Ethiopia to halt Tigray “joint military offensive”; UN humanitarian chief confirms shelling in Shire injures two aid workers

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. Photo: State Department

Addis Abeba – Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued the latest concern of the U.S. government “over reports of increasing violence, loss of life, indiscriminate targeting of civilians, and destruction in the conflict in northern Ethiopia, particularly around Shire in the Tigray region.” The U.S. also called on “the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and Eritrean Defense Forces to immediately halt their joint military offensive and for Eritrea to withdraw its forces from northern Ethiopia.”

Blinken also called on “the Tigrayan Defense Forces to cease provocative actions.”

The statement came shortly after Martin Griffiths, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, confirmed that “two frontline staff were injured in shelling today” in Shire. He described the situation as “increasingly tense.”

Martin Griffiths did not mention the names of the injured, not that of their humanitarian organizations. But According to journalist Simon Marks, two civilians were killed in an airstrike in Shire, and two staff members working for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) as well as four civilians were injured.

This is the second call by the U.S. in as many days. to call for the withdrawal of Eritrean forces from Ethiopia. On 12 October, the U.S, along with Australia, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom condemned “the escalating involvement of Eritrean military forces in northern Ethiopia,” and called on “Eritrean forces to cease their military operations and withdraw from northern Ethiopia. All foreign actors should cease actions that fuel this conflict.” AS

Antony Blinke’s Full Statement

The United States is deeply concerned over reports of increasing violence, loss of life, indiscriminate targeting of civilians, and destruction in the conflict in northern Ethiopia, particularly around Shire in the Tigray region.  We call on the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and Eritrean Defense Forces to immediately halt their joint military offensive and for Eritrea to withdraw its forces from northern Ethiopia.  We further call on the Tigrayan Defense Forces to cease provocative actions.  The fighting since the August 24 operation by the Tigrayan Defense Forces near Kobo in the Amhara Region contributed to the return to hostilities, which greatly increases the risk of atrocities and further human rights abuses.

It is incumbent on all armed actors to respect and protect civilians, and we call on them to allow unhindered humanitarian access to all Ethiopians in need.

We reiterate that the government of Ethiopia and Tigray regional authorities should immediately cease all hostilities and participate seriously in the forthcoming African Union-led peace talks.  The United States is fully engaged with the African Union, the governments of Kenya and South Africa, and other international and regional partners to organize and mediate peace talks as soon as possible.

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