Man carrying bag of wheat (© Ben Curtis/AP Images)
An Ethiopian man carries a sack of wheat May 8 to be distributed in the town of Agula in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. (© Ben Curtis/AP Images)

The United States has given more than $1 billion in humanitarian aid to the people of Ethiopia over the past year, while simultaneously working with partners to end the conflict in northern Ethiopia.

Violence in northern Ethiopia has displaced more than 2 million people since November 2020. An estimated 6 million to 7 million people lack adequate food and up to 900,000 may be facing famine. Those figures come from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

On October 12, the United States announced $26 million in new humanitarian aid for the region. On the same day, USAID Administrator Samantha Power and U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman convened a high-level ministerial meeting with Group of Seven nations and other major donor countries on ending the crisis in northern Ethiopia.

“Millions of civilians are currently experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world,” Power said after the meeting. “The U.S. is committed to continuing to provide humanitarian assistance to all Ethiopians affected by this conflict.”

Senior representatives from Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom joined the United States in the ministerial. They set urgent objectives for ending the crisis, including support for a cease-fire and for removing restrictions on humanitarian access to civilians in the Tigray region.

Crowds of people waiting for food aid (© Mulugeta Ayene/AP Images)
Displaced Ethiopians from different towns wait for aid in northern Ethiopia August 27, 2021. (© Mulugeta Ayene/AP Images)

The United States is the largest donor of aid to Ethiopia, providing more than $663 million in humanitarian assistance since the crisis began and more than $1 billion throughout the country over the past year. The funding supports emergency food assistance, access to safe drinking water, and latrines and hand-washing facilities to prevent the spread of disease, among other humanitarian priorities. It also provides therapeutic nutrition for malnourished children.

In northern Ethiopia, the United States is supporting the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations to provide emergency aid to Ethiopians in the Afar, Amhara and Tigray regions. Most assistance is being delivered by truck convoys.

As part of the effort, USAID is airlifting additional supplies, including:

  • 3,000 rolls of heavy plastic sheeting for emergency shelters.
  • 26,000 buckets for storing safe drinking water to reduce the risk of water-borne diseases.
  • Kitchen sets and blankets to help 10,000 families cook meals and stay warm.
  • Hygiene supplies to help up to 53,000 people stay healthy and prevent the spread of disease.

In May, the U.S. State Department also took steps to impose visa restrictions on Ethiopian and Eritrean government officials, members of the security forces, Tigray People’s Liberation Front members and others who have prolonged the conflict. The restrictions also target those who have committed human rights abuses.

President Biden established a new sanctions regime in September to further target those responsible for or complicit in continuing the conflict, or who block humanitarian access to the region.

“The ongoing conflict in northern Ethiopia is a tragedy causing immense human suffering and threatens the unity of the Ethiopian state,” Biden said. “My Administration will continue to press for a negotiated ceasefire, an end to abuses of innocent civilians, and humanitarian access to those in need.”