March 18, 2023 (GMN) - US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced $331m in new humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia during a visit to Addis Ababa aimed at improving the United States’ relations with the East African country.

The aid package was made public during a visit by Blinken to a United Nations logistics warehouse in the Ethiopian capital after he met with the country’s leaders.

“This funding will provide life-saving support to those displaced and affected by conflict, drought, and food insecurity in Ethiopia,” Blinken said in a statement.

The new assistance brings the total of US aid for Ethiopia in 2023 to $780m, the top US diplomat said. He added that the funding will supply “food, shelter, safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, healthcare efforts, education, and other key services” to Ethiopians.

The announcement came as Blinken held talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen earlier in the day.

His visit to Ethiopia also follows an agreement last November to put an end to deadly fighting between Ethiopian government forces and rebels in the northern Tigray region.

“This progress includes improved humanitarian access and restoration of basic services,” it said in a statement.

“The secretary reiterated US support for efforts by the parties to achieve full implementation of the agreement in order to lay the groundwork for a sustainable peace.”

Ethiopia  Africa’s second most populous nation, with more than 120 million people  has denied the most serious allegations of human rights violations during the war.

Blinken’s trip is the latest in a series of visits to Africa by senior US officials as the administration of President Joe Biden looks to reinforce ties with countries on the continent amid competition from China and Russia.

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