By Servet Gunerigok
WASHINGTON (AA) – US President Joe Biden called Wednesday for a cease-fire in Ethiopia’s Tigray region as the crisis there continued to worsen.
In a statement, Biden voiced deep concern over the escalating violence and hardening of regional and ethnic divisions in several parts of the country and said "the large-scale human rights abuses taking place in Tigray, including widespread sexual violence, are unacceptable and must end.”
"Belligerents in the Tigray region should declare and adhere to a cease-fire, and Eritrean and Amhara forces should withdraw," said the president, referring to the country’s Amhara region, which borders Tigray.
"All parties, in particular the Ethiopian and Eritrean forces, must allow immediate, unimpeded humanitarian access to the region in order to prevent widespread famine," he said.
The president said the US is committed to helping Ethiopia address these challenges, such as building on the longstanding ties between the two nations and working with the African Union, the UN and other international partners.
The Tigray region came under the international spotlight after Nov. 4 last year, when Ethiopia launched a massive law enforcement operation against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has long been fighting for the autonomy of Tigray.
On Nov. 3, TPLF forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian defense forces stationed in Tigray, including in the capital Mekele, killing soldiers and looting a sizable amount of military hardware.
On Nov. 28, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ended the military operation, but sporadic fighting continued in the region. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced while tens of thousands of others fled the fighting to neighboring Sudan.