News: Blinken expresses “concerns about situation in Oromia”, need for resolution through dialogue; announces $331 m in new humanitarian assistance

Secretary Blinken and his delegation met with PM Abiy Ahmed. Photo: PMO

Addis Abeba – In his first visit to Ethiopia, and subsequent meeting with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken “expressed concerns about the situation in Oromia and the need for a resolution through dialogue,” according to the official readout.

This is the second time in as many weeks that Secretary Bliken made official call to end the ongoing military violence in Oromia. In late January this year, Blinken said he had “discussed the need to bring an end to ongoing instability in the Oromia region” during a phone call with PM Abiy.

It comes as several stakeholders continue attempting to push for a peaceful resolution to end the five years military violence in Oromia involving federal and regional forces on the one had, and members of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), often referred to as “Shene” by the government, on the other hand.

The Oromia regional state president himself has called for reconciliation with OLA while addressing the 6th regular meeting of Caffee Oromia, the regional council, on 17 February. “There is nothing we cannot solve through peaceful means; no force should pay unnecessary scarifies,” Shimelis said. It was the second time the President made public comment on the need to end the conflict through peaceful means. In early February, in what appeared to be a sharp departure in tone and messaging from previous statements, Shimelis said that he wanted to end the fighting in Oromia.

In response to his statement tot the regional Council, the OLA said that any call for peaceful resolution of the ongoing war in Oromia “through civilized discourse” was “a welcome news.” However the group cautioned that the call “lacks the requisite clarity and nuance to be too optimistic about the overtures of an imminent peace process in Oromia.”

Addis Standard learned that diplomatic shuttles have started by key stakeholders to bring the two together, but sources insist it is too early to comment on.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Abiy’s office has released official communique on the meeting between the Prime Minister and Secretary Blinken but did not comment on the topic of discussion involving Oromia.

In addition, Blinken PM Abiy have also discussed “the importance of accountability for the atrocities perpetrated by all parties during the conflict, as well as the need for an inclusive and comprehensive process of transitional justice,” another topic the PM”s official statement skipped to raise.

Secretary Blinken has announced more than $331 million in new humanitarian assistance for Ethiopia for the year 2023, which will be channeled through the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“This funding will provide life-saving support to those displaced and affected by conflict, drought, and food insecurity in Ethiopia,” Blinken said.

The assistance the Secretary announced includes $12 million through the State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and more than $319 million through the U.S. Agency for International Development. This brings the total U.S. humanitarian assistance for the response to the region to more than $780 million in 2023. AS

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