U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is in Kenya as part of efforts to pull Ethiopia back from the brink of civil war. The visit is the first stop on a three-country tour for Blinken.
Blinken met with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi on Wednesday to discuss climate change, trade, the COVID-19 pandemic and most urgently, regional security.
At a news conference in Nairobi, Blinken said he and Kenyatta discussed the crisis in Ethiopia and the African effort to resolve it, led by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo.
“Our special envoy Jeffrey Feltman is working with high representative Obasanjo to press the parties to end hostilities immediately and without preconditions, to stop human rights abuses and violations, to provide humanitarian access for the millions in northern Ethiopia who are in dire need of life-saving supplies,” he said.
The Ethiopian government has been at war with the northern Tigray region for a year, and both sides are accused of committing widespread abuses against the population.
Concern about the situation has grown in recent weeks as Tigrayan and allied forces threaten to march on the capital.
On Sunday, Kenyatta visited Ethiopia, hoping to bridge the gap between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and Tigray regional leaders.
Kenya’s Foreign Minister Raychelle Omamo said it’s possible to find a solution to the crisis, and said Ethiopians need to work hard on a peaceful resolution to the war.
“We believe in the potential of Ethiopia to find a resolution to this crisis. We believe a ceasefire is possible. We believe the other conditions regarding humanitarian access are possible. We must believe in the fortitude and wisdom of the Ethiopian people because, in the end, the solutions will come from them. What we can do as a neighbor is to support,” said Omamo.
Meanwhile, Blinken also touted U.S. help to Africa in battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We provided more than 50 million doses to 43 African countries to date, including 4 million doses here in Kenya. We also gave $1.9 billion in COVID-related assistance across Africa to help meet humanitarian needs, including $76 million to Kenya. And we have done this with no political strings attached. This is about saving lives, that’s the only metric that matters,” he said.
Secretary Blinken next travels to Nigeria, followed by a visit to Senegal.