Biden demands for immediate withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Tigray
WASHINGTON, USA | Joe Biden has demanded the immediate withdrawal of Eritrean troops from the Tigray region of Ethiopia just a few days after Washington issued visa restrictions to top officials in Addis Ababa and Asmara, in what could be a game-changer amid claims of gross violation of human rights.
For over six months, the Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF], Eritrea Defense Forces, and Amhara regional forces have camped in the Tigray region in pursuit of Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF] fighters, most of who have surrendered
The Ethiopian government under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had declared the end of the operation in Tigray after the capture of Mekele, the regional administrative capital. However, the troops remain in the vicinity despite calls for withdrawal.
Agonizingly, the Eritrean troops have been accused of engineering rape, torture, and murder of civilians, with Addis Ababa making such admission last week. Although Abiy Ahmed had promised to withdraw Eritrean troops, they remain active in the region.
In a statement on Wednesday, Biden said he was “deeply concerned” by escalating violence in Tigray and “the hardening of regional and ethnic divisions” in several parts of the country.
“The large-scale human rights abuses taking place in Tigray, including widespread sexual violence, are unacceptable and must end,” he said.
Biden asked Eritrean and Amhara forces to withdraw from Tigray and for authorities to grant “immediate, unimpeded humanitarian access to the region to prevent widespread famine. “
“Belligerents in the Tigray region should declare and adhere to a ceasefire, and Eritrean and Amhara forces should withdraw.”
This comes after Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued travel restrictions to a host of officials from Eritrea and Ethiopia who are linked to the current crisis in Tigray. Those affected are primarily senior military officers and government officials.
But in a rejoinder, Ethiopia now says TPLF has continued to unleash on innocent officers in Tigray. A government statement said 20 others had been "kidnapped" and four more "wounded and hospitalized."
It was the first time the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had disclosed the toll of attacks by Tigrayian forces, which federal officials have long claimed would not mount an effective insurgency.
Nine officials have been killed in the region's Northeast Zone and six in the Central Zone, where heavy fighting has been reported in recent months, the statement said.
"In addition, TPLF has continued to burn down houses and fire ammunitions into households," it said.