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Blinken eyes African conflicts, human rights concerns on official visit

Blinken eyes African conflicts, human rights concerns on official visit

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has visited Africa for the first time. The high-ranked American official addressed Ethiopia’s raging Tigray conflict, the terrorism threat in Africa and human rights concerns in Nigeria, DW reported.

On Friday, Antony Blinken is paying his first official visit to the African continent, the top US envoy’s visit to Nigeria will be his second stop on a three-nation tour. The country faces rising insecurity amid a spate of kidnappings for ransom in the north, the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency, a secessionist push in the south and inflation that has affected most of Nigeria’s 206 million people.

For Nigerians, the expectation from the visit of the US high-ranking official is how the US may help financially, especially in sectors such as agriculture and technology. Over decades, the USAID remains the single largest donor helping with the humanitarian response in Nigeria. In 2020–21, it gave nearly $505 mln, most of which went to northern Nigeria, where an estimated 9 million people are at risk of food insecurity.

The Ethiopia’s conflict remains the important topic for Blinken, whose first stop was Kenya. The ongoing Tigray conflict in neighbouring Ethiopia featured prominently in his press conferences.

“We are gravely concerned about the escalating violence,” Blinken said, adding that the US regrets the expansion of fighting throughout the country “and what we see as a growing risk to the unity and to the integrity of the Ethiopian state.”

The 59-year-old diplomat said the US supports Kenya and the AU’s mediation efforts led by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo to broker a cease-fire in northern Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s warring parties cannot resolve the crisis militarily, Blinken said and added that the conflict’s sides have to recognize that and act accordingly. Commenting on the recent developments in the war zone, Blinke said that the US had deep concerns about the atrocities committed in Ethiopia.

The United Nations and Ethiopia’s Human Rights Commission recently released a report blaming federal troops and TPLF rebel fighters for human rights violations against civilians.