I would first of all like to express my appreciation for the U.S' engagement on what has been unfolding in Ethiopia. I am writing to you today to urge you to support S.3199, the Ethiopia Peace and Democracy Promotion Act of 2021.
I appreciate the bipartisan bills introduced in congress, continued diplomatic engagement, appointment of special envoy, and the Executive Order to establish a framework for addressing the complex challenges in Ethiopia. Despite these efforts, however, the lack of political will from the Ethiopian government, Eritrean regime and Amhara forces for a peaceful resolution has resulted in the continued genocidal acts against Tigray population.
According to UN estimates, half a million children in Tigray are lacking food. Since July, no trucks carrying fuel have been allowed to Tigray and since December 2021 no aid truck convoy has reached Tigray. This in conjunction with suspension of basic services such as electricity and banking has deprived the over 6 million civilian population of means to sustain life. Gainfully employed professionals unable to access their savings or salaries are left with no option but to rely on aid. Some have committed suicide due to extreme privation.
Malnourishment rates in Tigray, especially in children under age of five and pregnant women, has been significantly above the global average and fetuses deformed as a result of maternal malnourishment are being delivered in Tigray. Healthcare institutions have run out of antiviral drugs for tens of thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS, and essential medical equipment, e.g. gloves, IV fluids, and antibiotics. Researchers estimate that 500,000 people have already died due to the ongoing genocide on Tigray.
Per the latest UN reporting, “the level of food insecurity is expected to worsen in the coming months as remaining food stocks from the last harvest, which was half of normal year production, get depleted and humanitarian assistance is not delivered at scale and on time. Upcoming Meher season is a month away and prospects are bleak unless immediate action is taken to avail seed and fertilizer to farmers in Tigray on time.”
The realities in Tigray are however being deliberately masked by various deceptive methods employed by the Ethiopian government including targeted harassment, blackouts, false promises, coordinated vigilante attacks all intended to distract from the ongoing de facto blockade imposed on Tigray. The overhyped national dialogue which lacks inclusivity, transparency and independence is also being used as a tool to deceive the international community.
Therefore S. 3199 is critical to bring an immediate and long-term real-world impact that would save lives of millions and support ongoing efforts to engender peace and ensure accountability which are important for the world to mitigate further fracture & protracted violence threatening to irreparably rupture the social fabric in Ethiopia.