Deaths of Humanitarian Workers in Ethiopia

U.S. Embassy, Addis Ababa

Statement – Deaths of Humanitarian Workers in Ethiopia

May 20, 2021

The U.S. Government calls on all armed actors in Ethiopia to safeguard the lives and activities of humanitarian workers throughout Ethiopia. The Government of Ethiopia has a central role to play in ensuring the safety of civilians, including the humanitarian community. Further, all armed actors must uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law. We call on all armed actors to allow and facilitate unhindered, consistent, and safe access for aid—and aid workers—to reach all people in need.

Since November 2020, seven humanitarian workers have been killed in the Tigray Region alone, and one additional humanitarian has been killed elsewhere in the country. All were killed while supporting life-saving interventions for vulnerable people. We condemn in the strongest terms the killing of humanitarian workers. They must stop and those responsible must be brought to justice.

In the most recent incident, a staff member of a USAID partner was killed on April 28 in Kola Temben, Tigray reportedly by Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers. According to eyewitnesses, he clearly identified himself as a humanitarian worker and pleaded for his life before he was killed by military actors. The circumstances of this incident reflect a troubling broader deterioration in the safety and security of the environment in which humanitarian workers are operating in Ethiopia every day, as well as the worsening humanitarian and human rights crisis.

We honor the contributions of all humanitarians, those who continue to work on the front lines to save lives and those, tragically, who have sacrificed their lives in the courageous act of delivering assistance to those most in need. We express our condolences to their families, loved ones, and colleagues. We strongly urge the Government of Ethiopia to immediately investigate and condemn killings of humanitarian workers and civilians and to take clear action to hold those responsible accountable.