As Ethiopia Faces Famine-Like Conditions, U.S. Calls for 'Negotiated Resolution'

The United States called for a negotiated resolution to the Ethiopian conflict as the U.N. World Food Program said that more than one-third of the people in the country's most embattled region, Tigray, were suffering in extreme famine-like conditions.

Ethiopia, Africa's second-most populous country, has been in a state of civil war for over a year. The conflict between the Ethiopian military and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), an insurgent ethnic nationalist group, has kept the country in a state of emergency for the past several months, killed thousands, driven people from their homes and created extreme hunger in regions of the country.

The United States has voiced serious concerns over these conditions. On Wednesday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, "We have long called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, a transparent investigation into human rights abuses and violations by all actors, unhindered humanitarian access and a negotiated resolution to the conflict in Ethiopia."

Reports that the TPLF plans to advance into the region of Afar, close to the capital city of Addis Ababa, is "concerning," Price said. "We repeat our calls to all actors to cease all offensive operations which also hinder that humanitarian access that we all know is so crucial," he added.

Because of apparent violations of human rights and recent coups, the U.S. recently removed Ethiopia, among other countries, from the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a duty-free trade program.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden spoke with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The U.S. wants to encourage government officials to take advantage of a possible window for peace by "ending hostilities, negotiating a cease-fire, releasing all those detained, restoring humanitarian access on a sustained basis, and laying the foundation for an inclusive national dialogue, importantly, with the participation of all parties," Price said.

Ahmed has continued to take advice from the U.S. Last week, he met with Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee and Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa David Satterfield, who are encouraging his government to reach for peace as the conflict depletes resources needed by civilians.

The U.N. World Food Program reported that "families are exhausting all means to feed themselves, with three-quarters of the population using extreme coping strategies to survive."

The U.N. stated that no aid has been sent into the Tigray territory since December. Six million people reside there, and less than 10 percent of the necessary supplies, including fuel and medicine, have entered the region since July.

The food program reported that some 9 million people are in need of food assistance, the most yet in the war. The State Department said 900,000 people face man-made famine-like conditions across the regions of Tigray, Amhara and Afar.

A State Department spokesperson told Newsweek that "the government of Ethiopia has publicly committed to facilitating the movement of medical supplies, food and other life-saving relief into Tigray, given the immense needs. The United States will be closely tracking developments of much-needed aid entering the region on a continual and sustainable basis."

The spokesperson added, "Ethiopia is projected to face record levels of food insecurity during 2022, with the greatest needs concentrated in the conflict-affected areas. Insecurity, and a critical shortage of supplies and fuel, continue to hinder delivery of food assistance."

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The United States has called for a negotiated resolution as Ethiopia faces famine-like conditions amid a civil war that has lasted for over a year. Above, Ethiopians from the Tigrayan region living in South Africa hold placards while they protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria on Wednesday. PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images