Ethiopians living in the United States will get work permits and be protected from deportation for 18 months, the Biden administration has announced as the African country is embroiled in a deadly armed conflict.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Said On Friday, it extended what is known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Ethiopians because of “abnormal and temporary circumstances” that make it very dangerous for Ethiopians to safely return to their country.
Ethiopians residing in the United States as of October 20, 2022 are eligible to apply, DHS said.
“Ethiopian citizens currently residing in the United States cannot safely return home due to conflict-related violence and humanitarian crises involving severe food shortages, floods, droughts and forced displacement, but the situation at home You can stay and work in the U.S. until it gets worse, improving the country,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorcas said in a statement.
This is the first time an Ethiopian has been eligible for TPS, and the United States has extended it to citizens of countries around the world, including Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, Somalia, Cameroon and Ukraine.
Washington grants TPS to citizens of countries whose citizens are temporarily at great risk of returning, such as in the event of an armed conflict or after an environmental disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane.
The Ethiopian army and its allies, including troops from neighboring Eritrea, have intermittently fought forces in the northern Tigray region since late 2020.
Conflict has killed thousands, left millions homeless, and left hundreds of thousands at risk of famine.
The Ethiopian government has repeatedly denied blocking humanitarian aid to Tigray or targeting civilians, but earlier this week, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that food and medical care would be needed for the war. He said it was used as a weapon.
“Nowhere else in the world have six million people been under siege for almost two years,” Tedros said. “There is now a very narrow window to prevent genocide.”
Political analyst and Horn of Africa expert Faisal Roble told Al Jazeera that Friday’s move by the Biden administration was what many Ethiopians wanted.
“It’s about time,” said Roble. “I think the United States has finally realized that it needs to address this issue and seek a resolution to the dispute.”
The TPS designation coincided with the African Union’s (AU) announcement that peace talks to end the conflict will begin in South Africa on Monday, following earlier commitments by the Ethiopian government and Tiglayan forces to join.
The two sides promised to meet earlier this month, but it was postponed due to logistical reasons.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken welcomed the resumption of AU-led negotiations, saying: statement On Friday, Washington said it was “committed to continuing to participate actively in efforts to advance peace in northern Ethiopia.”
“We are deeply concerned by the reports of grave loss of life, destruction, indiscriminate bombing and human rights violations since the five-month humanitarian truce was broken on 24 August. We are also vigilant about widespread dangers,” said Blinken.
US immigrant rights advocates, meanwhile, welcomed the administration’s TPS designation, which it said protects about 27,000 Ethiopian citizens.
Krish Omara Vignaraja, president and CEO of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said, “The designation by the Biden administration is an important step in ensuring that Ethiopians, who are safe in the mainland United States, must not return to such a dire situation. Recognition.
“This move is a potentially life-saving reprieve for the tens of thousands of Ethiopians who have already contributed so much to the U.S. community,” said Omara Vinyaraja.
NEW: For the first time @DHSgov Designate Ethiopia temporary protection status, preventing the estimated 26,700 Ethiopians already in the United States from returning to their dire situation.
— Krish Omara Vignarajah (@KrishVignarajah) October 21, 2022