Photo from @USAIDPower Twitter, 7/31/21. Caption: "Met w/ Sudanese women journalists, who described climate of fear they faced reporting under Bashir, & before 2020 transition to civilian governors. Govt officials retaliated when they wrote on issues like Covid deaths or unemployment. As one said, 'Now we can say what we want.'"
CAIRO (AP) — The U.S. official who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on genocide landed Saturday in Sudan, aiming to support the country’s fragile transition to democracy before travelling to Ethiopia to press the government there to allow humanitarian aid to the war-torn Tigray region.
Samantha Power, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, is set to meet in Khartoum with top Sudanese officials including Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, the civilian face of Sudan’s transitional government.
She travelled Saturday to the western region of Darfur where she said she investigated atrocities in the its civil war in the 2000s, according to Sudan’s state-run SUNA news agency.
“I first visited Sudan in 2004—investigating a genocide in Darfur perpetrated by a regime whose grip on power seemed unshakeable. I couldn’t imagine Sudan would one day be an inspiring example to the world that no leader is ever permanently immune from the will of their people,” Power wrote on Twitter upon her arrival in Khartoum.
Power’s visit to Khartoum is meant to “strengthen the U.S. Government’s partnership with Sudan’s transitional leaders and citizens, explore how to expand USAID’s support for Sudan’s transition to a civilian-led democracy,” USAID said.
Sudan is now on a fragile path to democracy and is ruled by a military-civilian government after a popular uprising led to the military’s ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019. The Khartoum government, which seeks better ties with the U.S. and the West after nearly three decades of international isolation, faces towering economic and security challenges that threaten to derail its transition into chaos.
The U.S. official would also meet with Ethiopian refugees in Sudan who recently fled the conflict and atrocities in the Tigray region which borders Sudan.
Since the Tigray war began in November, tens of thousands of Ethiopians have crossed into Sudan, adding to the country’s economic and security challenges.
Power’s five-day trip will also take her to Ethiopia as part of international efforts to prevent a looming famine in Tigray, a region of some 6 million people that has been devastated by the months-long war.
Power will meet with Ethiopian officials “to press for unimpeded humanitarian access to prevent famine in Tigray and meet urgent needs in other conflict-affected regions of the country,” USAID said.
The world’s worst hunger crisis in a decade is unfolding in Tigray, where the U.S. says up to 900,000 people now face famine conditions and international food security experts say the crucial planting season “has largely been missed” because of the war.
Ethiopia’s government has blamed the aid blockade on the resurgent Tigray forces who have retaken much of the region and crossed into the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions, but a senior official with the U.S. Agency for International Development this week told the AP that is “100% not the case.”
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