Press Release

October 25, 2022
Cardin, Merkley, Menendez, Risch, Colleagues Urge Cessation of Hostilities in Ethiopia Ahead of Peace Talks in South Africa 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), with Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) sent a letter to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister ahead of planned peace talks led by the African Union set to begin tomorrow. In their bipartisan letter, the Senators welcome the Government of Ethiopia’s decision to participate in peace talks in South Africa and urge a cessation of hostilities and unfettered humanitarian access ahead of, and for the duration of, the negotiations.  

“The surge of violence in the last few weeks is the latest tragic chapter in a war that has had a devastating human toll,” wrote the Senators. “Since the start of the conflict in November 2020, an estimated 2.5 million civilians have been displaced, and approximately 500,000 killed.” 

The Senators go on to note how the collapse of the five-month humanitarian truce halted crucial aid from being delivered to 5.2 million people in need—including large numbers of women and children. In August, the United Nations warned that one out of every three Tigrayan children under the age of five in northern Ethiopia is acutely malnourished. Throughout Ethiopia, 20 million people are food insecure.  

“Too many lives have already been lost in this conflict, and in conflict throughout the country. We are hopeful that the AU-led talks will signal an end to the violence that has ravaged northern Ethiopia for two years and pave the way for holding those responsible for human rights abuses and atrocities to account. A peaceful resolution to the conflict is imperative and we urge you to facilitate this critical step toward peace by immediately ceasing hostilities,” they concluded. 

Full text of the letter follows below:

Dear Prime Minister Abiy,

We welcome the Government of Ethiopia’s decision to participate in the upcoming peace talks in South Africa, led by the African Union. We strongly urge all parties involved in the fighting to immediately cease hostilities, including the withdrawal of the Eritrean Defense Forces from northern Ethiopia, and allow unfettered humanitarian access to the entire region to ensure a successful outcome to negotiations.

The surge of violence in the last few weeks is the latest tragic chapter in a war that has had a devastating human toll. Since the start of the conflict in November 2020, an estimated 2.5 million civilians have been displaced, and approximately 500,000 killed.

The resumption of hostilities in northern Ethiopia is compounding an already dire humanitarian situation. With the collapse of the five-month humanitarian truce, crucial aid is no longer being delivered to the 5.2 million people in need in Tigray, including many women and children. The United Nations warned in August that one out of every three children under five in northern Ethiopia is acutely malnourished, while 20 million throughout Ethiopia are food insecure. These shocking numbers are certain to rise so long as fighting continues. Just last week, the UN Secretary General said the situation in Ethiopia is spiraling out of control.

Too many lives have already been lost in this conflict, and in conflict throughout the country. We are hopeful that the AU-led talks will signal an end to the violence that has ravaged northern Ethiopia for two years and pave the way for holding those responsible for human rights abuses and atrocities to account. A peaceful resolution to the conflict is imperative and we urge you to facilitate this critical step toward peace by immediately ceasing hostilities.

Sincerely,