Human rights have improved significantly since the halt of hostilities deals struck by the Ethiopian government and forces from the Tigray area in November, according to Kirby. The accord brought an end to a battle that had left hundreds of thousands hungry, uprooted millions, and murdered tens of thousands.
Despite a decline in overall violations since the truce, rights groups claim that violence, including ethnic cleansing, has continued in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray area, as seen in the American news agency, Reuters.
“We are lifting some restrictions on certain kinds of assistance while pausing food aid,” Kirby said. “This decision, we believe, expands the tools available to us to bolster our support for a durable peace in Ethiopia.”
The United States State Department stated that their help will promote peace and reconciliation. “The focus of resumed bilateral assistance will be to support further implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement and promote sustainable peace and reconciliation through efforts including demining, transitional justice, and accountability,” said a State Department spokesperson.
“We will continue to raise concerns and speak out about reports of serious human rights abuses, including by non-state actors in Western Tigray, and urge the government to protect civilians and hold perpetrators accountable,” the spokesperson added.
During the conflict, the United States curtailed economic and security support to Ethiopia, as well as access to the trade advantages of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a duty-free program that had been a boon to the country’s textile industry.
According to a White House National Security Council official, AGOA access is being reviewed separately from the move made on Friday. According to this spokesman, the US Trade Representative heads an annual interagency evaluation of Sub-Saharan African nations’ eligibility for AGOA benefits.
The United States Agency for International Development said earlier this month that it was halting food aid to Ethiopia because donations were being diverted from individuals in need, and the United Nations World Food Programme followed suit a day later.
More than 20 million people in Africa’s second most populous country require food aid, owing primarily to the worst drought in decades in the Horn of Africa and the war in northern Ethiopia.
In March, the United States ruled that all parties had committed war crimes. Ethiopia, as well as neighboring Eritrea, whose soldiers fought with Ethiopian troops against Tigrayan forces, denied the charges.