The head of the U.S. Agency for International Development highlighted what she called “desperate humanitarian needs that are growing even more acute with every passing day” during talks Wednesday with officials in Ethiopia.
The United States, United Nations and others are calling for an end to the conflict in the Tigray region, which has caused tens of thousands of people to leave their homes and put millions in need of humanitarian aid.
USAID leader Samantha Power cited “an alarming humanitarian catastrophe,” saying all parties involved should agree to an immediate cease-fire. She also said blockades have hindered distribution of aid, leading to supplies sitting in warehouses unable to reach those in need.
“Humanitarian aid workers should be free to do their jobs and never be targeted, attacked, or harassed, and they should have unhindered access to the desperate Ethiopian people whose lives they are trying to save,” Power told reporters.
When asked about comments made by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who described Tigrayan forces with words such as “weeds” and “cancer,” Power said she was concerned about such “dehumanizing rhetoric.”
“Dehumanizing rhetoric of the kind that you referred to only hardens tensions and can, and historically, certainly, often accompanies ethnically-motivated atrocities,” Power said.
She said she hopes a common shared goal is peace, and that there is no military solution to the conflict.
“It’s extremely important that all parties involved in the conflict come to the table and move away from what is an increasingly ratcheted up set of accusations and counter accusations and focus instead on the dialogue that is going to be needed for an inclusive peace and an end to the suffering of civilians,” Power said.