By Daphne Psaledakis and Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A senior U.S. State Department official warned on Thursday that Ethiopia and Eritrea should anticipate further actions from the United States if those stoking the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region fail to reverse course.
Thousands have been killed and about 2 million people forced from their homes in Tigray after conflict erupted between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Ethiopian military in November. Troops from the neighboring Amhara region and the nation of Eritrea entered the war to support the government.
The State Department’s Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs Robert Godec said in testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the security situation in Tigray has worsened in recent weeks, adding that atrocities have been committed by all armed actors.
Eritrea’s information minister, Yemane Gebremeskel, and Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti did not respond to calls and messages requesting comment on the remarks on Thursday.
“Should those stoking the conflict fail to reverse course, Ethiopia and Eritrea should anticipate further actions. It cannot be ‘business-as-usual’ in the face of the violence and atrocities in Tigray,” Godec said.
Godec said that while the ethnic conflict in Tigray is the worst in Ethiopia, it is only one, citing attacks on ethnic Amharans, Gumuz and Oromo, as well as other violence.
“The government’s response of mass arrests, media restrictions, human rights violations, and declining political space is fueling inter-communal rivalry and imperiling the national elections now scheduled for June 21,” Godec said.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Patricia ZengerleEditing by Chizu Nomiyama and Frances Kerry)