US special envoy for the Horn of Africa to step down soon – sources

Acting US Under Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield prepares before his address at the 11th annual conference of the International Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv, Israel , January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

Join now for FREE unlimited access to


WASHINGTON, April 12 (Reuters) – U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa David Satterfield will step down before the summer, sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, after less than six months on the job and in a context of persistent crisis. political unrest in the region.

Deputy special envoy Payton Knopf will assume the role on an interim basis, sources said, adding that Satterfield’s departure was not imminent.

Earlier, the State Department announced that Satterfield and Knopf were scheduled to arrive in Ethiopia on Wednesday, for meetings with Ethiopian government officials, representatives of humanitarian organizations and diplomatic partners.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to


The State Department made no official comment when asked about Satterfield’s departure.

News of Satterfield’s planned departure, first reported by Foreign Policy magazine, comes at a time of multiple crises in the region.

A more than year-long conflict in Ethiopia has drawn accusations of atrocities from both sides, while Sudan is embroiled in economic and political turmoil following a coup in October.

The frequent turnover of personnel also raises questions about the Biden administration’s engagement in the region, especially at a time when it grapples with pressing foreign policy crises elsewhere, primarily the Russian invasion of Ukraine. .

The region remains a “top priority” for the administration, a senior State Department official said, without giving further details.

Satterfield, a longtime diplomat with decades of experience, had replaced Jeffrey Feltman, another veteran US diplomat who resigned late last year after about nine months on the job. Feltman continues to serve in an advisory capacity.

Last week, two leading human rights groups accused the armed forces of Ethiopia’s Amhara region of carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Tigrayans during a war that has killed thousands of civilians and displaced more of a million people.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a joint report that abuses committed by Amhara officials and regional special forces and militias during fighting in western Tigray amounted to war crimes and crimes against the humanity. They also accused the Ethiopian army of complicity in these acts.

The Ethiopian government said in a statement last week that it was committed to holding accountable all those responsible for violations of human rights and humanitarian law.

Amhara government spokesman Gizachew Muluneh told Reuters last week that allegations of abuse and ethnic cleansing in western Tigray were “lies” and “fabricated news”.

Last week, the United States expressed concern over reports of ethnically motivated atrocities in Tigray and called for an end to unlawful detentions based on ethnicity.

In Sudan, the military takeover has derailed a transition that had raised hopes of ending decades of autocracy, civil conflict and economic isolation following the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir during an uprising in 2019.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to


Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Edition by Lincoln Feast.

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.