ADDIS ABABA (Dispatches) – Ethiopian demonstrators denounced the United States on Sunday for imposing restrictions on aid over the Tigray conflict, at a massive rally organized by the authorities to show support for their positions.
More than 10,000 people attended the rally, some carrying banners written in English, Arabic and Amharic. Slogans included: “USA show us your neutrality”, “Ethiopia doesn’t need a caretaker”, and “Fill the dam”, a reference to a huge Nile dam opposed by Egypt and Sudan.
The demonstration was larger than typical rallies.
Ethiopia is facing increasing international pressure over the conflict in Tigray, where it and neighboring Eritrea sent troops last year to oust the regional authorities.
A week ago, the United States imposed restrictions on economic and security assistance to Ethiopia over the conflict. Washington also said it would bar current or former Ethiopian or Eritrean officials it deems responsible for the crisis.
“I came here to show my support ... to denounce the restrictions put on Ethiopia by America,” said Nejash Sheba, a 23-year old Addis Ababa trader and member of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party.
Addis Ababa Mayor Adanech Abebe told demonstrators present at the Sunday rally that the nation will never give in to Washington’s illegitimate demands.
“We will never kneel down. The preconditions and travel restrictions by the U.S. and its allies are completely unacceptable. It needs to be corrected,” he said in an address to the rally organized by the Ministry of Youth.
The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned last week that Tigray was facing a horrifying situation with people dying of hunger and poor health.
“The situation in Tigray, Ethiopia, is, if I use one word, horrific. Very horrific,” Ghebreyesus, who himself hails from the region said at a press conference. “Many people have started dying actually because of hunger, and severe and acute malnutrition is becoming rampant,” he said.