Ambassador Ervin Massinga’s letter to the People of Ethiopia

To the People of Ethiopia,

Greetings and Happy New Year!  As we celebrate 120 years of people-to-people relations between our two nations this year, I would like to take a moment to reflect on and share with you some of the successful initiatives over the past year that demonstrate our enduring partnership and the United States’ commitment to you – the people of Ethiopia.

Over the past year, we have closely collaborated with Ethiopian communities to enact reforms ensuring that humanitarian assistance reaches those who need it most.  This partnership has been instrumental in providing lifesaving medical supplies, food, and emergency shelter to millions of Ethiopians.  But of course, our collaboration goes far beyond immediate relief.  Last year, USAID launched 24 new programs valued at over $484 million to promote democracy and governance, create economic opportunities for Ethiopian citizens, improve health outcomes, and strengthen resilience throughout Ethiopia.  In 2023, USAID started a groundbreaking collaboration with the LEGO Foundation in Ethiopia. This initiative will expand play-based preschools, harnessing the transformative power of education as Ethiopia shapes the future generation.  We have also facilitated the return of over 500,000 students to their classrooms and have supported the reopening of more than 1,000 schools in conflict-affected communities.

While the November 2, 2022, Cessation of Hostilities Agreement is still a work in progress, the guns are silenced in Tigray and many are now able to return to school and work.  We continue to encourage full implementation of the COHA in order to secure peace dividends for the Ethiopian people.  To help implement a credible, inclusive, and meaningful transitional justice process, the United States supported consultations throughout the country that enabled Ethiopians from all backgrounds to voice their priorities for accountability.  We are particularly proud to have partnered with marginalized communities, such as women with disabilities, to empower their participation in this process.

Remembering a nation’s history is as important as plotting its future development.  This year, in partnership with World Monuments Fund, the U.S. Embassy finalized conservation efforts to restore the landmark 19th century “American Gibbi” building in downtown Addis Ababa.  A symbol of American values and the United States’ enduring friendship and support for Ethiopia, even in times of crisis, the “American Gibbi” served as the American legation building from 1935 – 1941.  It was the site of a dramatic rescue during the 1937 Addis Ababa Massacre, when the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia saved the lives of thousands of Ethiopians by sheltering them in the building from fascist forces.

I am proud the United States’ private sector is also part of our people-to-people partnership.  One example is the historic relationship between Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines, which last year included strategic cooperation on critical areas like advanced aviation training, leadership development, and industrial development.  And through investments in the Ethiopian private sector, the United States is aiding youth start-ups and small businesses and launching creative partnerships with existing firms, like our collaboration with Safaricom to distribute health information to women, especially expectant mothers.  Our investment in the broader health care community greatly improved health services for all Ethiopians, reducing TB-related deaths, expanding women’s access to pre- and post-birth health services, and shielding over 2.1 million people from the threat of malaria.  We are also committed to accessibility for all Ethiopians.  Deafness is one of the most prevalent disabilities in Ethiopia, but through a $100,000 U.S. Embassy grant, Addis Ababa University’s Center for Special Education developed the first digital Ethiopian Sign Language (EthSL) dictionary in four Ethiopian languages (Amharic, Afan Oromo, Somali, and Tigrinya) and English.  The EthSL dictionary will lower language barriers, increase the inclusion of the deaf in social and economic activities, and spur economic growth and productivity.

As we look to our people-to-people engagement in the year ahead, there is much we can achieve together.  We will continue advocating for peaceful resolution of conflict through dialogue and negotiation between all parties to secure the safety of all Ethiopians.  Whether in Amhara, Oromia, Tigray, the south, or elsewhere, peace must prevail.  Good friends are honest with each other, and a troubling human rights situation and shrinking civic space are areas where we hope to partner with Ethiopia to achieve marked improvement.  To further these objectives, we will work to modernize the court system and facilitate justice reform to enhance Ethiopia’s rule of law capacity to better serve its people.  In 2024, as Ethiopia’s public universities transform into autonomously governed institutions, the U.S. government is redoubling its efforts to help strengthen the quality of higher education and expand partnerships with U.S. universities, particularly in the leadership, management, and governance of the newly autonomous universities.  Finally, continuing to partner with Ethiopia in its economic development so the people of Ethiopia can build a prosperous nation together is one of my top priorities.  And I am confident that American companies will continue to play an important role in that development by investing in Ethiopia, creating jobs, and training the country’s future business leaders.  I am excited about what the future holds as we – the people of the United States and the people of Ethiopia – continue to build on our 120 years of collaboration, cooperation, and commitment as partners for peace, prosperity, and promise.  Happy New Year!

Best Wishes for the New Year,

Ambassador Ervin J. Massinga
U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia

To learn more about the #Ethiopia_US120Years of partnership visit: U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia and follow U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa | FacebookTwitter and Instagram.