US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged $331 million in additional humanitarian help to Ethiopia while in Addis Ababa to deepen connections between the US and the East African country.

On Wednesday, Blinken met with the country’s officials before announcing the relief program during a visit to a UN logistical facility in Addis Ababa. Aljazeera reported in a report

“This financing will give life-saving relief to those displaced and afflicted by violence, drought, and food insecurity in Ethiopia,” the US Secretary of State said in a statement.

The top US diplomat estimates that with this extra support, American aid to Ethiopia will exceed $780 million in 2023. Ethiopians would benefit from the financing in terms of “food, shelter, clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, healthcare efforts, education, and other vital services,” he stated.

During earlier that day’s discussions with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen, Blinken made the declaration.

The US Secretary of State’s visit to Ethiopia also follows a November 2016 agreement to cease the brutal combat between rebels and Ethiopian government forces in the northern Tigray area.

Ethiopian soldiers and their supporters are accused of perpetrating atrocities throughout the battle, which led to tens of thousands of deaths and millions of displaced people, and for which the US had denounced Abiy’s government.

America severely restricted Addis Ababa’s access to economic and security aid during the battle and broke its ties to a duty-free trade project for sub-Saharan African countries.

Abiy said in a tweet that he and Blinken spoke about several bilateral issues. “With a dedication to partnership, we have decided to strengthen the long-standing bilateral ties [between] our countries,” he stated.

Blinken’s trip is the most recent in a string of visits to the continent by senior US officials as the administration of President Joe Biden works to deepen ties with African states in the face of competition from China and Russia.

The US secretary of state will visit the West African nation of Niger on Thursday to deal with armed groups there.

Kamala Harris, the vice president of the United States, is scheduled to travel to Tanzania, Ghana, and Zambia in March to meet with the leaders of each nation.

Janet Yellen, the US Treasury Secretary, traveled to Zambia, Senegal, and South Africa in January.

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