Tigray: USAID boss Samantha Power calls for dialogue in Ethiopia war

Samantha Power

Samantha Power, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, speaks at a hotel in Sudan's capital Khartoum on August 3, 2021. 

Photo credit: Ashraf Shazly | AFP

The head of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Samantha Power, has called on all parties to the conflict in Tigray to immediately ceasefire and begin dialogue.

She was speaking during an official visit to Ethiopia, which follows warnings of punitive measures from the US government to Ethiopia if much-needed aid does not get to those in need in Tigray region. 

Ms Power, who arrived in the Horn country on Wednesday, met with Ethiopia's minister of peace, Muferihat Kemal, and health minister Liya Tadesse. She told Ethiopian officials that it was time for the government to consider peace options to end the ongoing conflict.

Sources told nation.africa that Ms Power did not meet with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as she was told that he was outside the capital.

While expressing US concerns over Tigray, whose conflict has spread to neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions, Ms Power said the impasse can only be resolved through peaceful means.

She also called for the Tigray People's Liberation Fron (TPLF) to withdraw its forces from neighboring Amhara and Afar regions.

In July alone, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced in the conflict that began in November last year.  

During her stay, Ms Power has also spoke with Ethiopian officials about ways of allowing unfettered humanitarian access to Tigray to prevent looming famine.

Last week, the US government announced $149 million additional humanitarian assistance for Tigray, while also calling for an end to bureaucratic delays and attacks on aid convoys that are affecting timely aid delivery to those in need.

Ms Power's arrival in Addis Ababa comes at a time when the government has suspended the activities of three foreign humanitarian organisations which have been working in Tigray.

Ethiopia's Agency for Civil Society Organisations on Wednesday said that it had identified rule violations by the three aid groups, namely: Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Maktoume Foundation, while monitoring their activities.

"MSF and the Norwegian Refugee Council have been disseminating misinformation on social media and other platforms outside of the mandate and purpose for which the organisations were permitted to operate," the agency said in a statement it issued on Wednesday.

Before that, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) had ceased aid operations in several parts of central and eastern Tigray in July. The medical charity said it had suspended operations in Abi-Adi, Axum and Adigrat towns following the brutal killings of three of its staff in June.