WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, today issued the following statement in response to the Ethiopian government’s expulsion of seven United Nations officials, including those essential to providing aid to more than 5 million Ethiopians in need of food and other basic resources.
“The highly irresponsible recent action by the Government of Ethiopia to expel seven United Nations officials demonstrates the continued instability of the country and lack of consideration for its people. The officials, essential to providing aid to over 5 million Ethiopians who are desperately in need of food and other basic resources, include the head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Current humanitarian access has already been insufficient to meet the needs of northern Ethiopia, with aid workers able to get only about 10 percent of what is needed into the country. This latest development will only exacerbate the need.
“In my recent meeting with the U.S. State Department Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman, I stressed the critical need for humanitarian aid to Ethiopia, an immediate ceasefire in the country, and the importance of holding the Government of Ethiopia accountable. It is imperative that Prime Minister Abiy’s government restore accountability and protect the rights of the Ethiopian people.
“We now have the power to impose new targeted economic sanctions as established by President Biden’s Executive Order earlier this month, in connection with the crisis in northern Ethiopia. My message to the government of Ethiopia is this: we will not hesitate to use this authority or other tools at hand to respond to those who obstruct humanitarian assistance to the Ethiopian people.