Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement on the State Department’s announcement today of Jeffrey Feltman as Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa:
“Today’s announcement of Jeffrey Feltman as Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa is an important and welcome step in our efforts to bring peace and stability to the region. The ongoing conflict in Ethiopia has created a humanitarian disaster, with tens of thousands of civilians killed, over a million people displaced, millions in need of humanitarian assistance, and no end in sight. There are credible reports of mass killings, rape being used as a weapon of war, and other atrocities committed by all sides to the conflict. There is a heightened and serious risk of famine if the conflict does not stop. The continued presence of Eritrean troops inside Ethiopia, a simmering border dispute between Ethiopia and Sudan, and the potential malign influence of other outside actors, create the potential for the instability in Ethiopia to spread into a wider regional conflict. U.S. diplomatic leadership is more important than ever to help address these issues and move the region back from the brink of a wider disaster.
“I have been appalled by the reports of war crimes and crimes against humanity that are coming out of Ethiopia, and remain deeply concerned about the continued suffering of the Ethiopian people. I am also troubled by the lack of progress we have seen on developing a durable peace in Somalia despite years of U.S. support and assistance, am wary of China’s attempts to gain greater influence in the region by establishing a military base in Djibouti, and remain deeply concerned by the destabilizing actions carried out by the Government of Eritrea. Jeffrey Feltman is an experienced diplomat and expert on the region, the Middle East, and the United Nations. His appointment is essential, given the myriad challenges the region faces. I sincerely wish Mr. Feltman luck on his new appointment and look forward to working with him to find ways Congress can support stability in the region.”
As a leader on the Senate Foreign Relations’ Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy, Senator Booker has been an outspoken voice for addressing the conflict in Ethiopia as well as stability in the wider region. In January, during the confirmation hearing for Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Senator Booker specifically called for the State Department to create the position of Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa. This new position will be charged coordinating the U.S. response to multiple ongoing conflicts and humanitarian disasters, and organizing the international community to come together to help bring peace and stability to the region.