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Op-Ed

Obama Keeps Promise to Use ‘Power of the Pen’

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By Julianne Malveaux

NNPA Columnist

 

During his State of the Union address, President Obama promised to use the power of his pen to achieve the policy objectives that Congress continues to block.  After advocating fairness and being rebuffed by Congress, the president chose to use the power of his pen to require federal contractors to pay workers at least $10.10 per hour, or $21.800 per year.  That puts a single parent with two children below the poverty line.

Now the president is using the power of his pen to ensure that workers receive overtime pay.  Currently, the only workers required to receive overtime pay are those who earn $445 a week, about $11 an hour or $23,000 per year.  The president has proposed that that amount be raised to somewhere between $550 and $970 a year.  Splitting the difference means that those who earn about $760 a week or $39,500 a year would be entitled to overtime.

Already the business lobby has said that both a higher minimum wage and mandatory overtime cuts into their profits.  Already they have talked about cutting the number of workers they will employ, and the number of hours they will employ people.  These greedy corporate giants fail to note that while wages and salaries for the top one percent soared by nearly a third in the past three tears, the wages of those in the remaining 99 percent rose by a fraction of one percent in three years.  A worker earning $30,000 a year saw her wages rise to $30,300; someone earning $300,000 a year saw his wages rise to $396,000.

Clearly, those who earn $30,300, if not poor, are a stone’s throw away from poverty.  These are the folks who struggle from paycheck to paycheck, who make decisions about whether to buy their children new shoes or pay the cable bill.  These folks aren’t trying to purchase luxuries, and they aren’t looking for handouts.  They just want to live decently, with enough food on the table, with bills paid, and with a little breathing room.  These are folks who don’t take vacations.  Luxury for them may mean a couple of days off to visit neighborhood parks. Summertime, when the living is easy for children, may be a burden to those parents who can’t afford childcare.

With his effort to reduce income inequality and improve the lives of those at least the President is moving in the right direction.  Unfortunately he can’t get enough members of congress to follow, because they are committed to obstructionism.  Aren’t there poor people in these republican districts?  Are they willing to sacrifice the well being of their constituents to hold fast to party principles?  Researchers should look at the levels of poverty in each Congressional district and shame these miscreants into doing the right thing.

Republicans forget, and some Democrats fail to argue, that increasing the economic well being of those at the bottom improves the nation’s economic status.  Those at the bottom will use added wages to pay bills, to buy some of the things they’ve put off purchasing, to pump money into the economy.  In contrast, those at the top are likely to save their money or invest it, failing to spend enough to trickle down their spending to benefit those at the bottom.

It is said that a rising tide lifts all boats.  But some folks are riding a luxury yacht, while others are struggling to survive on a raft.  The rising tides argument only works for those at those at the top who have seen their wages grow dramatically.  Those at the bottom are barely floating on a tottering raft that has dozens of holes, as evidenced by their small pay increases, low wages, and lack of overtime.

To the extent that President Obama has the power of the pen he can both improve the lives of those at the bottom, but also remind us of the meaning go fair labor standards.  This is a conversation our nation has not had in awhile.  We have been content to let the wages of those at the bottom continue to drift downward, while using tax policy and fiction (rising tide) to enrich those at the top.  What does it take to sensitize those at the top to the plight of those at the bottom?   The Occupy movement looks better by the day.

 

Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer.  She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.

 

Freddie Allen is the Editor-In-Chief of the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com. Focused on Black people stuff, positively. You should follow Freddie on Twitter and Instagram @freddieallenjr.

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OP-ED: Communities of Color and Other Buyers, Beware of Bold Promises from Health Insurers

A recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that “older Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native adults were nearly twice as likely to die of COVID-19 as older White adults,” and “cases among Black and Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries were 1.6 times higher than the rate observed among White beneficiaries.”

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African Americans clearly need better health insurance. But we can’t get lured in by companies that are more interested in taking money than providing real healthcare benefits.

By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., President and CEO, National Newspaper Publishers Association

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought issues of healthcare equity to the forefront of discussions of racial justice. Even when controlling for factors like age and income, communities of color have been much more severely impacted that white Americans.

A recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that “older Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native adults were nearly twice as likely to die of COVID-19 as older White adults,” and “cases among Black and Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries were 1.6 times higher than the rate observed among White beneficiaries.”

Access to healthcare and health insurance is a vital issue for African Americans. And it’s important to be on the lookout for healthcare companies that make big promises but fail to deliver.

In this context, let’s take a look at Oscar Health, an insurance company that tries to appeal to consumers by positioning itself as a tech company. But its track record is questionable at best.

The company has been investigated and fined by the NY State Department of Financial Services. During its expansion in New York, Oscar cut the number of doctors in its network by more than half.

The company also has connections to former Trump Administration officials. It was founded by Jared Kushner’s brother Josh, and its parent company, Thrive Capital, was partly owned by Kushner until he took a job at the White House. And the company is run by serial Wall Street investors who seem primarily interested in flipping companies for a profit.

Even more concerning, Oscar has been expanding into the Medicare Advantage program, where they can leverage taxpayer money to provide health coverage to our seniors. That means one of our most vulnerable communities could be opting into a company that has questions hanging over it.

African Americans clearly need better health insurance. But we can’t get lured in by companies that are more interested in taking money than providing real healthcare benefits.

So, before you make a decision about health insurance, please get more than one opinion or option.  There are healthcare insurance companies that are considerably more equitable and beneficial. Healthcare for all is both a fundamental civil and human right.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and Executive Producer and Host of The Chavis Chronicles (TCC) broadcast weekly on PBS TV stations throughout the United States. 

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OP-ED: COVID-19 Testing and Black America

NNPA NEWSWIRE — According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, a majority of Black Americans (61%) now say they plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine (or that they’ve already received one), compared to only 42% in November, 2020. As trust increases, we need to also increase access to COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in our communities to create better health outcomes.

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Getting tested for important health issues - and understanding the results - empowers people to make informed and sometimes critical healthcare decisions. In fact, 70% of medical decisions are based on results from diagnostic tests.
Getting tested for important health issues - and understanding the results - empowers people to make informed and sometimes critical healthcare decisions. In fact, 70% of medical decisions are based on results from diagnostic tests.

By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., President and CEO, National Newspaper Publishers Association

The COVID-19 pandemic across America and throughout the world is still a serious danger to public health for all communities, but especially for African American and other people of color communities. African Americans are still disproportionately negatively impacted by this deadly virus.

This is why more COVID-19 testing for Black America is so important in 2021: African Americans comprise 13% of the U.S. population, but more than half of all COVID-19 cases, and nearly 60% of all COVID-related deaths in the U.S., were in cities with large Black populations. Now that federal-government approved vaccines are available, it does not mean that COVID-19 testing is no longer needed.

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) is very concerned about the current state of health disparities and inequities that are realities for the majority of African Americans. Facts, data, and truth about the pandemic are vital to our future.

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, a majority of Black Americans (61%) now say they plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine (or that they’ve already received one), compared to only 42% in November, 2020. As trust increases, we need to also increase access to COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in our communities to create better health outcomes.

The Black Press and the Black Church are two fundamental trusted institutions in our communities. We are pleased to learn about a new emerging partnership with Black church leaders which is creating greater access to much-needed COVID-19 testing in our communities. A partnership between Quest Diagnostics, Choose Healthy Life and the United Way of New York City is bringing COVID-19 testing and education to Black communities in cities across the U.S., and they are working with trusted voices in Black churches to increase participation.

The pandemic has also made it even clearer that Black Americans need access to additional resources to take control of their health. In Chicago for example, Black residents make up 30% of the population but account for 70% of COVID-related deaths, and the majority of Black COVID-19 patients who have died in Chicago also had underlying health conditions, like respiratory problems, hypertension, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death for Black Americans, and Black people experience risk factors that contribute to heart disease like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol more often and earlier in life compared to White people. Thus, overall healthcare testing is needed throughout Black America.

Getting tested for important health issues – and understanding the results – empowers people to make informed and sometimes critical healthcare decisions. In fact, 70% of medical decisions are based on results from diagnostic tests. Because there aren’t always obvious symptoms of a health issue, testing is one of the most effective ways to identify health concerns that may need to be addressed.

Quest Diagnostics is committed to creating partnerships with others to increase access in Black and other underserved communities. It’s time for the entire healthcare system to step up with similar commitments – with access to treatment and preventative care – to help Black communities move past this pandemic on an even ground with White America. Access, testing, and equity are keys to achieving and maintaining good health for all.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr is President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), and Executive Producer and host of The Chavis Chronicles (TCC) on PBS TV stations weekly across the United States.

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COMMENTARY: The Seven Last Words of George Floyd

NNPA NEWSWIRE — This year’s Good Friday is especially poignant for African Americans it comes in the middle of the trial of Derek Chauvin for the gruesome murder of George Floyd. The 9 minutes and 29 seconds that turned the collective stomach of the world have been seared into our shared consciousness and the legacy of this watershed moment is still playing out.

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It is customary on Good Friday to commemorate the seven last words/sayings of Jesus Christ in solemn worship. In that spirit today, I encourage us to reflect upon the seven last words of George Floyd based upon the police bodycam transcript. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
It is customary on Good Friday to commemorate the seven last words/sayings of Jesus Christ in solemn worship. In that spirit today, I encourage us to reflect upon the seven last words of George Floyd based upon the police bodycam transcript. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

By John Thomas III, Editor, The Christian Recorder

The commemoration of Good Friday is a solemn and holy event for Christians. We cannot get to the resurrection of Jesus Christ without traversing through the crucifixion, death, and burial of God’s only begotten son. One of the dividing lines among Christian traditions is the context of Jesus’s Passion and death. When we separate Jesus from His worldly environment and circumstances—being persecuted as a Jewish teacher by a foreign empire and betrayed by compatriots who were threatened by His message and witness—we lose sight that Jesus, both fully God and man, was gruesomely murdered.

This year’s Good Friday is especially poignant for African Americans it comes in the middle of the trial of Derek Chauvin for the gruesome murder of George Floyd. The 9 minutes and 29 seconds that turned the collective stomach of the world have been seared into our shared consciousness and the legacy of this watershed moment is still playing out. In the same way that we cannot allow our faith to be sanitized, we cannot allow the death of Mr. Floyd to be stripped of the circumstances of institutional racism, poverty, and White Supremacy that led to his brutal death at the hands of one who was charged to serve and protect. It is customary on Good Friday to commemorate the seven last words/sayings of Jesus Christ in solemn worship. In that spirit today, I encourage us to reflect upon the seven last words of George Floyd based upon the police bodycam transcript.

1) Mama, mama, mama!

“When George Floyd called for his mother, he was calling for all of us,” said a friend of mine who is the mother of a young Black son. When Jesus was dying on the cross, He looked to His mother, Mary commending her to John’s care. We can only imagine how Mary felt to see the life slowly leaving her son’s body. In his last moments, Mr. Floyd cried out for the woman who brought him into this world as he realized he was being ripped out of it.

2) Please, man.

When Jesus was on the cross, He appealed to His tormentors to quench His thirst. Mr. Floyd appealed to the humanity of his tormentor to save his life. He was already on the ground and restrained. He was not a threat. This plea echoes the signs of the 1960s strikes when working-class Black people asserted their dignity by simply saying, “I am a Man!” It also echoes the appeal of Sojourner Truth for persons to see and value her humanity by saying, “Ain’t I a Woman?” In the eyes of his murderer, however, Mr. Floyd was not a citizen—much less, a human being.

3) You’re going to kill me, man!

Mr. Floyd told his murderer that he was dying and pleaded with him to stop. As the trial goes on, we are hearing the damning testimony of persons who all say they know they witnessed a murder. An assassination perpetrated by White Supremacy at the hands of the police. How many times have we heard deadly force being justified because of a perceived threat or a need to stand one’s ground?

4) I can’t believe this.

Mr. Floyd’s disbelief that a transaction with an alleged counterfeit bill could cost him his life at the hands of someone who he had worked with. The shock from emergency personnel who clearly saw the signs of distress yet were not allowed to render assistance. The horror of rookie police officers out on their training patrol witnessing a superior crushing the life out of a restrained suspect. We all cannot believe the cruel brutality of White Supremacy—yet it plays before our collective eyes daily with its deadly consequences.

5) Tell my kids, I love them.

Mr. Floyd had a life before he became a martyr, a slogan, and a t-shirt image. He was a friend, a son, and a father. Behind every victim of racism is collateral damage—grieving children, a heartbroken community, the lost potential of what could and should have been. Even though his death has become a symbol of the cost of institutional racism for Black people, Mr. Floyd was a real man with real people who mourn him and were robbed of his presence in their lives.

6) I’m dead.

Between 1920 and 1938, the New York branch of the NAACP hung a flag outside of its office emblazoned with the words, “Another man was lynched today.” In 2015, the flag was revived and updated to say, “Another man was lynched by police today.” Jesus’s death was a public lynching complete with a gambling show. The world has borne witness to Mr. Floyd’s lynching—many anguished, others cheering, and some nonchalant—in the same way that the spectators watched Jesus hang His head on Golgotha as the sun set.

7) I can’t breathe!

The most well-known phrase that embodies how White Supremacy has strangled the life out of Black people globally through the trans-Atlantic slave trade (Maafa), colonialism, apartheid, segregation, and a litany of other terms associated with White Supremacy and anti-Blackness. It was first seared into our memories when we watched Eric Garner have the life choked out of him. On May 25, 2020, over 600 years of global anti-Blackness were distilled into a single moment when a white cop literally ripped the spirit out of a Black man. We remember that Jesus committed His spirit to God as his lungs collapsed from the crucifixion.

Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Tamir Rice, Freddy Gray, Philando Castille, Bothan Jean Janisha Fonville, Mr. George Perry Floyd, Jr., and Jesus.

Today as we commemorate one who paid the ultimate price for our eternal salvation, we must also remember those who daily pay the price of the legacy of the brutal and inveterate violence of White Supremacy. Our prayer to make it “on Earth as it is in Heaven” is only as good as the witness and daily steps we take to make sure that Jesus, George Floyd, and so many others have not died in vain. Amen.

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OP-ED: The American Rescue Plan — Changing the Course of the Pandemic for All Americans

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The American Rescue Plan also addresses inequities in access to pandemic resources by making significant investments into small, Black businesses by providing $50 billion for new and existing small business relief programs. This legislation bolsters the Paycheck Protection Program with an additional $7.25 billion in funding to support small businesses and non-profits that were previously excluded.

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We will continue fighting to ensure that, in the short term, Black communities have access to all the tools necessary to recover from the economic and personal devastation wrought by this pandemic; and in the long term, address the impacts of historic disparate treatment against communities of color.
We will continue fighting to ensure that, in the short term, Black communities have access to all the tools necessary to recover from the economic and personal devastation wrought by this pandemic; and in the long term, address the impacts of historic disparate treatment against communities of color.

By U.S. Congressman James E. Clyburn (D-SC-6)

It has been a little more than a year since COVID-19 was officially discovered within the boundaries of the United States. It has been devastating to communities of color.

The statistics are sobering. Blacks represent only 13-percent of the U.S. population, but account for nearly 24-percent of age-adjusted COVID-19 deaths. In January, nine percent of Black workers or 1.8 million people in our communities were unemployed. One in five Black households are struggling with food insufficiency, and more than a third of Black renters are behind on their rent payments.

President Joe Biden has responded to this world-wide pandemic with The American Rescue Plan (ARP) which he signed into law last month, just 51 days after he took office. The ARP will help change the course of the pandemic and deliver immediate relief for hard-hit communities of color. This transformative law invests in a national vaccination program and the safe reopening of schools. It distributes $360 billion in emergency funding for state and local governments to keep front line public workers on the job and help maintain essential services. These targeted investments will directly benefit your communities and help them return safely to normal.

The ARP also provides direct benefits for you and your family. It delivers immediate relief to families by devoting $1 trillion towards economic recovery for working families including direct relief payments, extension of unemployment insurance benefits, increasing child and earned income tax credits, and increasing SNAP benefits.

Many of you may have already received the $1,400 direct payment per eligible member of your household. Because of misinformation that is being shared via social media, I want to clarify that this is the second of two payments. The first $600 payments per eligible person were distributed in December and January. These two direct payments deliver on the $2,000 per person in pandemic relief that Democrats campaigned on last November.

The American Rescue Plan also addresses inequities in access to pandemic resources by making significant investments into small, Black businesses by providing $50 billion for new and existing small business relief programs. This legislation bolsters the Paycheck Protection Program with an additional $7.25 billion in funding to support small businesses and non-profits that were previously excluded.

It allocates $15 billion in flexible grants to help the smallest; most severely impacted businesses persevere through the pandemic. It deploys community navigators to increase awareness of and participation in COVID-19 relief programs for small business owners who currently lack access, especially underserved entrepreneurs without banking relationships, lawyers, accountants, and consultants. And, it provides $28 billion for a new grant program to revitalize hard-hit small restaurants and other food and drinking establishments.

The American Rescue Plan is the first piece of legislation passed by the 117th Congress and signed by President Biden to rescue our economy and repair some of our faults that are being exasperated by COVID-19. On March 30th President Biden rolled out his American Jobs Plan. That plan proposes to: Fix highways, rebuild bridges, upgrade ports, airports and transit systems; deliver clean drinking water, a renewed electric grid, and high-speed broadband to all Americans; build, preserve, and retrofit more than two million homes and commercial buildings, modernize our nation’s schools and child care facilities, and upgrade veterans’ hospitals and federal buildings.

These actions demonstrate President Biden’s and Congressional Democrats’ commitment to building America back better than it was before the virus visited. This is not the end of his build back better plan. There is a third iteration on the way.

During his victory speech last November, President Biden pledged to always have the backs of the African American community. We will continue fighting to ensure that, in the short term, Black communities have access to all the tools necessary to recover from the economic and personal devastation wrought by this pandemic; and in the long term, address the impacts of historic disparate treatment against communities of color.

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OP-ED: Prophetic Politics and Black America: “What Will You Do unto the Least of These?”

NNPA NEWSWIRE — It is, therefore, a reaffirmation of my faith in the oneness of God and the oneness of humanity that I must join to publicly support my African American clergy leaders in Washington, DC and across the nation who dare to remind even some of our own local African American elected officials that we all should stand for helping those among us who are less fortunate, poor, homeless, malnourished, imprisoned, returning-from-prison, and destitute.

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The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in his theological genius, courage, and prophetic utterances, challenged all of us when he clearly stated, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Black church leaders uphold the tradition of speaking truth to power. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in his theological genius, courage, and prophetic utterances, challenged all of us when he clearly stated, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Black church leaders uphold the tradition of speaking truth to power. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO

If it were not for the Black Church in America, our long struggle for freedom, justice, equality, equity, and empowerment would not have made the progress that has been accomplished over the past 500 to 400 years. I speak in the tradition of my Presbyterian great-great grandfather, The Reverend John Chavis (1763-1838) in North Carolina and The Reverend Nat Turner (1800-1831) in Virginia.

Depending on when you define the beginning of the international Transatlantic Slave Trade will give you a deeper insight on why the religious, political, and historical perspectives of people of African descent still matter in the United States and across the African Diaspora in 2021.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in his theological genius, courage, and prophetic utterances, challenged all of us when he clearly stated, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Black church leaders uphold the tradition of speaking truth to power.

It is, therefore, a reaffirmation of my faith in the oneness of God and the oneness of humanity that I must join to publicly support my African American clergy leaders in Washington, DC and across the nation who dare to remind even some of our own local African American elected officials that we all should stand for helping those among us who are less fortunate, poor, homeless, malnourished, imprisoned, returning-from-prison, and destitute.

To that end, a group of distinguished African American clergy leaders and other community leaders on March 9, 2021 sent an urgent letter of concern to The Honorable Vincent C. Gray, DC Ward 7 City Councilmember and former Mayor of Washington, DC. I consider Vincent Gray a friend that I have admired over the past years.

The ministers expressed their strong objection to an effort that Councilmember Gray is leading to terminate the contract of the service provider currently running the short-term housing program at The Horizon in Ward 7.

As the letter points out, that program has been delivering an essential service to families in desperation and facing homelessness. And the social service provider that the city entrusted to provide this essential service, CORE DC, has been lauded by city officials as a dedicated and ideal partner.

It is therefore troubling that anyone would want to end this, particularly since the program is a bedrock of stability for those most in need, as well as a transformative centerpiece of Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s effective fight against poverty in the nation’s capital city.

The ministers argue that Councilmember Gray’s effort has nothing to do with the exemplary services CORE DC continues to provide. Instead, the ministers say this is all driven by Councilmember Gray’s opposition to a completely unrelated project involving the federal government’s plan to contract CORE DC to provide critically needed reentry services for men returning home from periods of incarceration in federal prison.

We hope that is not, in fact, what’s unfolding, particularly at a time when a pandemic has exacerbated the desperation of individuals who are on the economic margins of society, but the ministers are nevertheless adamant in their plea.

“The effort to dismantle this program is troubling enough on its own,” the ministers write. “But it is even worse in light of the fact that you have openly – and at times inexplicably – taken a hostile stance against CORE DC regarding the organization’s plans to open another facility in Ward 7, a residential reentry center for returning citizens.”

I am hopeful and prayerful that Councilmember Gray will respond affirmatively and will heed the requests of church and community leaders to support CORE DC and The Horizon residential facilities in Ward 7 to continue to offer critical needed services to DC’s homeless and those returning citizens from prisons and jails.

There will always be political differences among elected officials. Yet, differences of opinion about public policies among elected officials should never rise to the occasion to permit a turning of backs on the poor and the homeless. In other words, those who are privileged to make decisions that will impact the quality of life of others should always be concerned about the least of those among us.

All of the major metropolitan areas in the United States are facing the challenges of homelessness and poverty. While we live in the richest nation in the world, we cannot afford to lose sight of our mutual civic and moral responsibilities to be our “brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.”

The following biblical scripture reference should apply to all urban public policymakers: “What you do unto the least of these, you do also unto me.” That is why I use the term “prophetic politics” as the act of political decision-making as a reaffirmation and practice of one’s faith and commitment to serve all of humankind fairly and justly.

The Black Press of America grew out of the Black Church 194 years ago with the publication of Freedom’s Journal in New York City in 1827 by John Russwurm and The Reverend Samuel Cornish. We knew back then as we know today that we must continue “to plead our own cause” to demand freedom and equality. This also means that we are obligated to plead with each other to treat one another fairly and equitably as well.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and Executive Producer and Host of The Chavis Chronicles (TCC) on PBS TV stations across the U.S. and can be reached at dr.bchavis@nnpa.org.

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OP-ED: Atrocities in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The United States acknowledges the February 26 statements from the Ethiopian Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs promising unhindered humanitarian access, welcoming international support for investigations into human rights violations and abuses and committing to full accountability.  The international community needs to work collectively to ensure that these commitments are realized.

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We ask international partners, especially the African Union and regional partners, to work with us to address the crisis in Tigray, including through action at the UN and other relevant bodies.
We ask international partners, especially the African Union and regional partners, to work with us to address the crisis in Tigray, including through action at the UN and other relevant bodies.

By Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

The United States is gravely concerned by reported atrocities and the overall deteriorating situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.  We strongly condemn the killings, forced removals and displacements, sexual assaults, and other extremely serious human rights violations and abuses by several parties that multiple organizations have reported in Tigray.  We are also deeply concerned by the worsening humanitarian crisis.  The United States has repeatedly engaged the Ethiopian government on the importance of ending the violence, ensuring unhindered humanitarian access to Tigray, and allowing a full, independent, international investigation into all reports of human rights violations, abuses, and atrocities.  Those responsible for them must be held accountable.

The United States acknowledges the February 26 statements from the Ethiopian Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs promising unhindered humanitarian access, welcoming international support for investigations into human rights violations and abuses, and committing to full accountability.  The international community needs to work collectively to ensure that these commitments are realized.

The immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces and Amhara regional forces from Tigray are essential first steps.  They should be accompanied by unilateral declarations of cessation of hostilities by all parties to the conflict and a commitment to permit unhindered delivery of assistance to those in Tigray.  The United States is committed to working with the international community to achieve these goals.  To that end, USAID will deploy a Disaster Assistance Response Team to Ethiopia to continue delivering life-saving assistance.

We ask international partners, especially the African Union and regional partners, to work with us to address the crisis in Tigray, including through action at the UN and other relevant bodies.

The United States remains committed to building an enduring partnership with the Ethiopian people.

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