Apr 29, 2022
On April 19th, Congressman Sherman was invited to co-host a reception at the Republican Club for Ethiopian Finance Minister Ahmed Shide and Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States Fitsum Arega. The invitation was sent by former Congressman Jack Kingston, whose lobbying firm represents the Government of Ethiopia. (A copy of the invitation can be viewed here.)
Sherman’s response can be viewed here. Sherman has been a vocal critic of the Ethiopian Government for its practice of blocking humanitarian aid to the Tigray region, which resulted in 40% of Tigray’s population suffering from an extreme lack of food and 90% of its population needing urgent humanitarian assistance according to the World Food Programme and the UN. While the Ethiopian Government’s imposed media blackout has made tracking the full scale of devastation inside Tigray impossible, recent reports estimate that 500,000 Tigrayans have died – nearly 10% of Tigray’s population.
However, Sherman agreed that he would host the event – only if the Ethiopian government agreed to allow humanitarian organizations such as the World Food Program, USAID, and the International Committee of the Red Cross to bring into the Tigray region 100 trucks of humanitarian and food aid that are desperately needed by the people of Tigray. In fact, the U.N. has said that 100 aid trucks are needed every day to meet the humanitarian need within Tigray – yet less than 5% of the needed aid has been allowed to enter Tigray during the last month since a humanitarian truce was declared by the Ethiopian Government. Prior to that point, not a single humanitarian aid truck entered Tigray from December 15th until April 1st.
For months, it has been clear that the objective of the Ethiopian Government, and the Eritrean Government, is to use starvation as a weapon of war against the people of Tigray. The U.S. State Department has said the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments’ blocking of humanitarian access into Tigray is “unacceptable,” and “unequivocally [called] upon the Governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia to take all necessary steps to ensure that their forces in Tigray cease and desist this reprehensible conduct.” Similarly, the U.N. has echoed these calls, urging “the Ethiopian authorities to allow us to [support millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Tigray, Amhara and Afar] without hindrance and to facilitate and enable our work with the urgency that this situation demands.”
While Congressman Sherman welcomes the development that 74 humanitarian aid trucks and 5 fuel tankers were able to make it into Tigray starting on April 25th, this slow aid falls short of what the U.N. has said is needed to save millions of starving people – 100 trucks of humanitarian aid a day, every day. “There is no indication that the April 26th increase was in response to my letter on April 22nd, and of course it was not the 100 trucks I asked for. More concerning is that zero trucks were allowed to enter Tigray on April 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th. Accordingly, I did not attend Minister Shide’s Congressional event,” Sherman said.
Ethiopian Finance Minister Ahmed Shide will attempt to use this reception to deflect from the atrocities committed by his government. Nevertheless, Congressman Sherman will continue to work to make sure that his colleagues and the American people are aware of this policy of causing mass starvation, which has already killed tens of thousands and threatens to soon kill hundreds of thousands, if not millions.
“I will not break bread with a Minister of a government that has used a food blockade to kill hundreds of thousands of civilians,” said Sherman. “I will change my position if 100 trucks, or some number close to that, are allowed in day after day.”