By John Ikani
The US has placed sanctions on Eritrea’s military, its ruling party and two officials, accusing all of contributing to the war in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
The head of the US Treasury department’s sanctions office, Andrea Gacki, condemned Eritrea for undermining the stability and integrity of the Ethiopian state, resulting in a humanitarian disaster.
It cited “numerous reports of looting, sexual assault, killing civilians, and blocking humanitarian aid” by Eritrean forces.
The soldiers “have been seen disguised in old Ethiopian military uniforms, manning checkpoints, obstructing and occupying critical aid routes, and threatening medical staff in one of northern Ethiopia’s few operating hospitals,” the statement said.
Ethiopia’s Government allowed Eritrean soldiers to enter Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, but then denied the soldiers were there for months.
Eritrea has supported the Ethiopian Federal Government against Tigrayan rebels.
The UN has accused all sides in the year-long war of committing atrocities that may amount to war crimes.
The conflict has displaced over two million people.
The US sanctions also targeted Abraha Kassa Nemariam, the chief of the Eritrean National Security Office; Hidri Trust, the holding company of the Eritrean ruling party’s business enterprises; the Red Sea Trading Corporation, which managed the ruling party’s financial interests; and the corporation’s chief executive, Hagos Ghebrehiwet W. Kidan.
The Treasury Department noted that Eritrean military leader President Isaias Afwerki was not sanctioned.
Washington also warned it would sanction Ethiopia’s government and rival Tigray forces if there is no “meaningful progress” toward a ceasefire and mediation.