April 9, 2021

Dear Mr. Ghebreslassie,

          Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Ethiopia.  As your Senator, I value your input and appreciate you taking the time to reach out to me.

I am deeply concerned about the situation in Tigray and peace and stability across Ethiopia. Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous country. It is the world’s largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations and the host of the African Union headquarters. Continuing ethnic violence and the prospect of civil war threaten to destabilize the entire East African subregion and harm the United States-Ethiopia bilateral relationship.

In response to deepening U.S. concerns about the conflict, I traveled to Ethiopia at the request of President Biden in March 2021. There, in meetings with senior Ethiopian government officials including Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, African Union leadership, experts from the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, and other U.S. officials, I conveyed the President’s grave concerns about the humanitarian crisis and human rights abuses in the Tigray region, the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, and other regional security issues. Following my visit, I have been encouraged to see Prime Minister Abiy recognize the presence and harmful effects of Eritrean forces within Ethiopia and the human rights abuses that have occurred in his country. At the same time, I remain clear-eyed about the challenges that remain in restoring the stability of Ethiopia and the broader Horn of Africa. I continue to urge the Ethiopian government to pursue a sustainable ceasefire; engage in political dialogue with an inclusive group of Tigrayan leaders; agree to an enduring peace deal; care for those displaced by conflict; allow for a thorough, independent, and transparent investigation into the crimes and abuses committed by all actors; conduct free, fair and credible elections in June; and protect civilians throughout the country.

Even before traveling to Ethiopia in March, as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I spoke regularly with regional leaders and other U.S. government officials about how to improve the political, security, and humanitarian situation in Ethiopia. In July 2020, I issued a statement expressing our support for a peaceful and democratic Ethiopia and our concerns about increasing unrest and ethnic violence there. In November, I joined 16 Democratic Senate colleagues in urging then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to engage with Prime Minister Abiy to reach a ceasefire and de-escalate tensions in the Tigray region. In addition, I spoke with the Prime Minister directly to convey my concerns about the rapidly escalating conflict with the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front and to encourage him to pursue dialogue and reconciliation. On our call, I also emphasized the need to protect civilians and allow humanitarian access, and raised alarm about disturbing reports of human rights violations on both sides. In January of this year, I joined Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in a letter to the Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia advocating for improved humanitarian access to the Tigray region. In March, I joined a bipartisan group of colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to introduce a resolution calling on the Government of Ethiopia, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, and other actors to cease all hostilities, protect human rights, allow unfettered humanitarian access, and cooperate with independent investigations of credible atrocity allegations pertaining to the conflict in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia (S.Res. 97).

In addition, I have been a longtime supporter of foreign assistance to Ethiopia, especially to advocate for economic development and humanitarian assistance to prevent famine and provide life-saving aid to those in need. Please know that as the Chair of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds foreign assistance, I will do everything I can to enable and support stability and prosperity throughout Ethiopia and sub-Saharan Africa.

          Again, thank you for contacting me.  It is an honor to represent Delaware in the United States Senate, and I hope you will continue to keep me informed of the issues that matter to you.  


Christopher A. Coons
United States Senator