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US Sanctions Ethiopian, Eritrean Government Officials Over Tigray Crisis, Blinken Says

© REUTERS / MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAHEthiopians, who fled the ongoing fighting in Tigray region, carry their belongings after crossing the Setit River on the Sudan-Ethiopia border, in the eastern Kassala state, Sudan December 16, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo
Ethiopians, who fled the ongoing fighting in Tigray region, carry their belongings after crossing the Setit River on the Sudan-Ethiopia border, in the eastern Kassala state, Sudan December 16, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.05.2021
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced new restrictions against Ethiopian and Eritrean officials and members of security forces over the prolonged conflict in the Tigray region.

"Today, I am announcing a visa restriction policy under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act on the issuance of visas for any current or former Ethiopian or Eritrean government officials, members of the security forces, or other individuals—to include Amhara regional and irregular forces and members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF)—responsible for, or complicit in, undermining resolution of the crisis in Tigray," Blinken said on Sunday.

According to the US Secretary of State, the sanctioned individuals include those who have conducted "wrongful violence or other abuses" against people in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, as well as those who have hindered access to humanitarian assistance.

"Should those responsible for undermining a resolution of the crisis in Tigray fail to reverse course, they should anticipate further actions from the United States and the international community. We call on other governments to join us in taking these actions. Additionally, we have imposed wide-ranging restrictions on economic and security assistance to Ethiopia and will bring our defense trade control policy in line with them," Blinken said.

He called for a durable solution to the Tigray crisis, saying that so far the parties to the conflict have taken no meaningful steps to end hostilities.

"We call on the Ethiopian government to meet public commitments to hold accountable all those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, to protect civilians, and to ensure unhindered humanitarian access. We call for the Eritrean government to live up to its public commitment and immediately return its troops to internationally recognized Eritrean territory. Without an immediate cessation of hostilities and a rapid expansion of humanitarian access, current and significant food insecurity could lead to famine," Blinken warned.

The Tigray Region in the north of Ethiopia has been experiencing severe food insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a locust outbreak, and the ongoing regional conflict.

Fighting in the province of Tigray broke out in November 2020 after the Ethiopian government accused the local ruling party — Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) — of attacking a regional military base to hijack weapons and arm an anti-government militia. In late 2020, TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael said that Eritrea, which was technically at war with Ethiopia until 2018, had sent troops across the border in support of Ethiopian government forces.

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