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Biden OKs sanctions against Ethiopian leaders over Tigray fighting

A man brings food for displaced persons who fled fighting in the Tigray region of Ethiopia on August 19. Thousands have been killed and 2 million have been displaced since the fighting started 10 months ago between Ethiopian forces and Tigray fighters. Photo by EPA-EFE
A man brings food for displaced persons who fled fighting in the Tigray region of Ethiopia on August 19. Thousands have been killed and 2 million have been displaced since the fighting started 10 months ago between Ethiopian forces and Tigray fighters. Photo by EPA-EFE

Sept. 17 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden signed an order Friday that authorizes economic sanctions against leaders in Ethiopia over the fighting in the Tigray region, where conflict for much of the past year has pushed Ethiopians to the brink of famine.

Biden's order doesn't impose sanctions, but opens the door to fiscal punishment if Ethiopian leaders don't take steps to end the fighting soon.

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The order identifies the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Tigray People Liberation Front and others as possible targets of sanctions. It also calls for a cease-fire in the war-torn region of Africa.

Thousands have been killed and 2 million have been displaced since the fighting started 10 months ago between Ethiopian forces and Tigray fighters, who control the country's northern region.

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In recent months, humanitarian workers have been blocked from delivering aid, and some have been harassed and killed. There have also been reports of mass murder and sexual violence against civilian populations.

A White House official said less than 10% of humanitarian aid and supplies intended for the Tigray region in the past month have actually been delivered.

"I join leaders from across Africa and around the world in urging the parties to the conflict to halt their military campaigns respect human rights, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and come to the negotiating table without preconditions," Biden said in a statement Friday.

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"Eritrean forces must withdraw from Ethiopia. A different path is possible but leaders must make the choice to pursue it."

Biden said the United States fully supports mediation efforts through African Union High Representative for the Horn of Africa Olusegun Obasanjo.

"We fully agree with United Nations and African Union leaders: There is no military solution to this crisis," Biden added. "These sanctions are not directed at the people of Ethiopia or Eritrea, but rather the individuals and entities perpetrating the violence and driving a humanitarian disaster.

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"We will continue to work with our partners to address basic needs of at-risk populations in Ethiopia and the greater Horn of Africa."

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