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Biden Administration Lifts Human Rights Designation for Ethiopia, Resumes Economic Aid


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The Biden administration has informed Congress that it no longer considers Ethiopia to be engaged in a “pattern of gross violations of human rights,” leading to the lifting of a legal designation that will allow the resumption of U.S. and international economic aid to the country.

The decision marks a shift in Washington’s approach to Ethiopia, as the country seeks to rebuild after a brutal civil war that was deemed one of the bloodiest conflicts of the 21st century.


Despite reports of ongoing human rights abuses and ethnic cleansing in the northern Tigray region, the move by the Biden administration demonstrates its eagerness to strengthen ties with Ethiopia.

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The country is seen as a key player in African security and development initiatives and a vital partner for U.S. engagement on the continent. President Joe Biden recently praised Ethiopia for its role in evacuating U.S. diplomats and citizens from Sudan during the conflict.

The decision by the Treasury Department to lift the human rights designation is based on an assessment by the State Department, according to a congressional notification viewed by Foreign Policy.

However, it comes in the wake of a major aid scandal in Ethiopia, with the U.S. Agency for International Development suspending food aid due to widespread theft. The Ethiopian government has committed to investigating the scheme.

Biden Administration Lifts Human Rights Designation for Ethiopia, Resumes Economic Aid

Despite the lifting of the designation, human rights organizations have raised concerns about ongoing abuses in the Western Tigray Zone. However, the State Department argues that the human rights situation has significantly improved since the end of hostilities.

The lifting of the designation allows the resumption of direct U.S. economic assistance to Ethiopia and the unblocking of major International Monetary Fund programs to support the country’s economy. This move will help cover gaps in government funding and address Ethiopia’s growing government debt.


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