Tigray World Refugee Day Letter

The Honorable Antony J. Blinken
Secretary of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Blinken,

We are writing to express ongoing concerns regarding the lack of implementation of the Pretoria Agreement, which was signed on November 2, 2022, and formally ended the 2-year conflict between the Ethiopian government and the TPLF.

As we celebrate World Refugee Day this week, we are particularly concerned about the continued desperate situation of those who remain displaced by the war. During the war in northern Ethiopia, nearly 3 million people1 were displaced by conflict across the Afar, Amhara, and Tigray regions. Included in this number were an estimated 1.2 million2 ethnic Tigrayans who were victims of a targeted campaign of forced displacement in western Tigray3. The Tigray region’s western and southern zones have been the center of a long-running territorial dispute4 with the neighboring Amhara region. During the 2020-2022 conflict, Amhara forces, fighting alongside the Ethiopian and Eritrean armies, annexed these areas and began a campaign5 of violence,6 leading to widespread displacement of ethnic Tigrayans. In March 2023, you determined7 that “members of the Amhara forces also committed the crime against humanity of deportation or forcible transfer and committed ethnic cleansing in western Tigray.”

In July 2021, you sought8 affirmation from Prime Minister Abiy that “neither the internal nor external borders of Ethiopia will be changed by force or in contravention of the constitution.”
Article 5 of the Pretoria Agreement mandates9 that the Ethiopian government shall “facilitate the return and reintegration of internally displaced persons and refugees.” The November 12, 2022, Nairobi Declaration10 on the modalities for the implementation of the Pretoria Agreement requires the removal of “foreign and non-ENDF forces” from the Tigray region. Almost 20 months after the signing of the agreement, 70,000 Ethiopian refugees11, mostly from western Tigray12, remain in refugee camps in Sudan, and close to one million people13 remain displaced living in in the rest of Tigray. An illegal14 administration is still in place in western Tigray, the leadership of which has been accused of orchestrating the ethnic cleansing campaign against Tigrayans and has vowed to prevent Tigrayan IDPs from returning home15. Additionally, Eritrean troops continue to occupy Ethiopian territory in the Irob16, Gulomakeda17, and Tahtay Adiyabo18 districts of the Tigray region, where they have harassed and displaced residents unabated. A recent Refugees International report19 detailed the dire conditions facing Tigray’s displaced population, and hundreds20 of hunger deaths21 have been recorded in Tigray’s IDP camps since the end of the conflict.

As an observer and guarantor of the Pretoria Agreement, the U.S. must ensure further implementation is not delayed. We urge you to affirm that the withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF forces from Tigray, the swift and safe return of IDPs, and justice and accountability are necessary conditions for the fulfillment of the Pretoria Agreement and the normalization of relations with the Ethiopian government. To that end, we encourage you to take the following steps.

  1. In addition to your March 2023 determination, we ask you to make a determination on whether members of the civilian leadership of the Amhara regional government, the federal government, or the ENDF, also facilitated or participated in the ethnic cleansing of civilians from western Tigray. We also ask that the State Department investigate reports of ongoing ethnic cleansing taking place in western Tigray22 and publicize its findings.
  2. Ensure that American financial support23 to the Ethiopian government or the Amhara regional government is not subsidizing occupying administrations in western Tigray who are implicated in ethnic cleansing.
  3. In November 2022, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee stated that if Eritrea did not completely remove its forces from Ethiopian territory, additional sanctions would be levied on the Eritrean government24. We ask that the Administration keep its word on this matter.
  4. Provide robust humanitarian assistance to support IDPs.
  5. Encourage discussions among federal authorities and Tigray and Amhara political and civic leaders to find long-term solutions to identify and resolve regional boundary issues.
  6. Insist on consistent access to all areas of Tigray for journalists, independent human rights monitors and investigators, and the African Union’s Monitoring, Verification, and Compliance Mission to ensure the withdrawal of non-ENDF forces and protection and guarantees of non-repetition of harassment and displacement for returning IDPs.
    U.S. leadership is critical toward completing the implementation of the Pretoria Agreement, alleviating the suffering of victims of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, and helping resolve other conflicts threatening Ethiopia’s stability.
    Thank you for your time, and we look forward to your Administration’s actions on this important issue.


Health Professionals Network for Tigray, www.hpn4tigray.org
Irob Anina Civil Society, www.irobanina.org
Omna Tigray, www.omnatigray.org
Tigray Action Committee, https://tigrayactioncommittee.com

Omna TigrayPress Release, June 20, 2024


  1. https://www.unrefugees.org/news/ethiopias-tigray-refugee-crisis-explained/
  2. https://reliefweb.int/report/ethiopia/ethiopia-northern-ethiopia-humanitarian-update-situation-report-2-dec-2021
  3. https://www.hrw.org/report/2022/04/06/we-will-erase-you-land/crimes-against-humanity-and-ethnic-cleansing-ethiopias
  4. https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/horn-africa/ethiopia/b156-bridging-divide-ethiopias-north
  5. https://www.icrc.org/en/document/ethiopia-displaced-people-fear-for-their-lives
  6. https://twitter.com/quen10tarantino/status/1468832990037889028
  7. https://www.state.gov/war-crimes-crimes-against-humanity-and-ethnic-cleansing-in-ethiopia/
  8. https://www.state.gov/secretary-blinkens-call-with-ethiopian-prime-minister-abiy-3/
  9. https://igad.int/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Download-the-signed-agreement-here.pdf
  10. https://addisstandard.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Executive-Declaration.pdf
  11. https://data.unhcr.org/es/country/sdn
  12. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/12/16/ethiopia-war-western-tigray
  13. https://reliefweb.int/report/ethiopia/ethiopia-refugees-and-internally-displaced-persons-region-31-december-2023
  14. https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/ethiopia-aims-end-illegal-administration-disputed-territory-2023-08-22/
  15. https://twitter.com/Yonigussie/status/1615666143955402756
  16. https://addisstandard.com/analysis-eritrean-forces-continue-abductions-and-sexual-violence-in-tigrays-irob-woreda-despite-pretoria-peace-deal/
  17. https://twitter.com/Tigrai_TV/status/1743521110191165836
  18. https://www.thereporterethiopia.com/33392
  19. https://www.refugeesinternational.org/reports-briefs/scars-of-war-and-deprivation-an-urgent-call-to-reverse-tigrays-humanitarian-crisis/
  20. https://apnews.com/article/ethiopia-tigray-hunger-deaths-aid-6d5a15fa7cda213b86f41c87b1a185e7
  21. https://addisstandard.com/news-tragedy-strikes-abiy-addi-idp-camp-as-hunger-claims-hundreds-of-lives-in-tigray-thousands-remain-in-peril/
  22. https://addisstandard.com/news-thousands-fleeing-western-tigray-seek-refuge-in-endabaguna-town-as-hunger-persecution-rise/
  23. https://et.usembassy.gov/usaid-director-announces-7-7-million-investment-in-amhara-region/
  24. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6jM6aGoHXs, Assessing the Biden Administration’s U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing, November 17, 2022 (45:30)