December 6, 2021

News

News Network

Atrocities in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region

13 min read

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

The United States is gravely concerned by reported atrocities and the overall deteriorating situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.  We strongly condemn the killings, forced removals and displacements, sexual assaults, and other extremely serious human rights violations and abuses by several parties that multiple organizations have reported in Tigray.  We are also deeply concerned by the worsening humanitarian crisis.  The United States has repeatedly engaged the Ethiopian government on the importance of ending the violence, ensuring unhindered humanitarian access to Tigray, and allowing a full, independent, international investigation into all reports of human rights violations, abuses, and atrocities.  Those responsible for them must be held accountable.

The United States acknowledges the February 26 statements from the Ethiopian Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs promising unhindered humanitarian access, welcoming international support for investigations into human rights violations and abuses, and committing to full accountability.  The international community needs to work collectively to ensure that these commitments are realized.

The immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces and Amhara regional forces from Tigray are essential first steps.  They should be accompanied by unilateral declarations of cessation of hostilities by all parties to the conflict and a commitment to permit unhindered delivery of assistance to those in Tigray.  The United States is committed to working with the international community to achieve these goals.  To that end, USAID will deploy a Disaster Assistance Response Team to Ethiopia to continue delivering life-saving assistance.

We ask international partners, especially the African Union and regional partners, to work with us to address the crisis in Tigray, including through action at the UN and other relevant bodies.

The United States remains committed to building an enduring partnership with the Ethiopian people.

More from: Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

News Network

  • Former East Tennessee Clinic Owner Convicted of Unlawful Opioid Distribution
    In Crime News
    A federal jury in the Eastern District of Tennessee convicted a former nurse practitioner yesterday of unlawfully distributing prescription opioids to patients at a clinic he owned in Manchester, Tennessee.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Settles Retaliation Claim Against Florida Electrician Company
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department today announced that it reached a settlement agreement with Service Minds Inc., dba Mister Sparky (Service Minds), a company that provides contract electrical services to residential customers in Florida and Alabama. The settlement resolves a claim that the company retaliated against a work-authorized job applicant, in violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), when he and his wife challenged a U.S. citizens-only hiring rule that a recruiter had wrongly claimed was the company’s policy.
    [Read More…]
  • NASA Invites Public to Share Excitement of Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Launch
    In Space
    A Mars photo booth, [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Seeks to Shut Down Louisiana Tax Return Preparers
    In Crime News
    The United States has filed a complaint seeking to bar Louisiana tax return preparers from owning or operating a tax return preparation business and preparing tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today. The civil complaint against Leroi Gorman Jackson and Mario Alexander, both individually and doing business as The Taxman Financial Services LLC, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
    [Read More…]
  • Former Mexican governor sent to US prison for money laundering
    In Justice News
    A former Coahuila, [Read More…]
  • Houston bounty hunter sentenced for running international sex trafficking conspiracy
    In Justice News
    A 30-year-old Houston [Read More…]
  • Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting with Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s Negotiating Team
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with French Foreign Minister Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Maas, and UK Foreign Secretary Raab
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Judiciary Employees Find Ways to Help During Pandemic
    In U.S Courts
    Learn about the countless Judiciary employees across the court system who have volunteered to help people in need in their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    [Read More…]
  • Barbados Independence Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Former Natural Gas Trader Pleads Guilty for Role in Commodities Insider Trading Scheme
    In Crime News
    A former natural gas trader pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit commodities fraud and wire fraud for his role in an insider trading scheme.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Rene Pfister of Der Spiegel
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Two Men Convicted for Roles in $4.5 Million International Telemarketing Scheme
    In Crime News
    A federal jury convicted two men Wednesday for their roles in a $4.5 million telemarketing scheme that defrauded victims in the United States from a call center in Costa Rica.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Pompeo’s Call with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Al Sabah
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • International Statement: End-To-End Encryption and Public Safety
    In Crime News
    We, the undersigned, [Read More…]
  • Visa Waiver Program: Actions Are Needed to Improve Management of the Expansion Process, and to Assess and Mitigate Program Risks
    In U.S GAO News
    The Visa Waiver Program, which enables citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without first obtaining a visa, has many benefits, but it also has risks. In 2006, GAO found that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) needed to improve efforts to assess and mitigate these risks. In August 2007, Congress passed the 9/11 Act, which provides DHS with the authority to consider expanding the program to countries whose short-term business and tourism visa refusal rates were between 3 and 10 percent in the prior fiscal year. Countries must also meet certain conditions, and DHS must complete actions to enhance the program's security. GAO has examined DHS's process for expanding the Visa Waiver Program and evaluated the extent to which DHS is assessing and mitigating program risks. GAO reviewed relevant laws and procedures and interviewed agency officials in Washington, D.C., and in U.S. embassies in eight aspiring and three Visa Waiver Program countries.The executive branch is moving aggressively to expand the Visa Waiver Program by the end of 2008, but, in doing so, DHS has not followed a transparent process. DHS did not follow its own November 2007 standard operating procedures, which set forth key milestones to be met before countries are admitted into the program. As a result, Departments of State (State) and Justice and U.S. embassy officials stated that DHS created confusion among interagency partners and aspiring program countries. U.S. embassy officials in several aspiring countries told us it had been difficult to explain the expansion process to foreign counterparts and manage their expectations. State officials said it was also difficult to explain to countries with fiscal year 2007 refusal rates below 10 percent that have signaled interest in joining the program (Croatia, Israel, and Taiwan) why DHS is not negotiating with them, given that DHS is negotiating with several countries that had refusal rates above 10 percent (Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovakia). Despite this confusion, DHS achieved some security enhancements during the expansion negotiations, including agreements with several aspiring countries on lost and stolen passport reporting. DHS, State, and Justice agreed that a more transparent process is needed to guide future program expansion. DHS has not fully developed tools to assess and mitigate risks in the Visa Waiver Program. To designate new program countries with refusal rates between 3 and 10 percent, DHS must first make two certifications. First, DHS must certify that it can verify the departure of not less than 97 percent of foreign nationals who exit from U.S. airports. In February 2008, we testified that DHS's plan to meet this provision will not help mitigate program risks because it does not account for data on those who remain in the country beyond their authorized period of stay (overstays). DHS has not yet finalized its methodology for meeting this provision. Second, DHS must certify that the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) for screening visa waiver travelers in advance of their travel is "fully operational." While DHS has not announced when it plans to make this certification, it anticipates ESTA authorizations will be required for all visa waiver travelers after January 12, 2009. DHS determined that the law permits it to expand the program to countries with refusal rates between 3 and 10 percent after it makes these two certifications, and after the countries have met the required conditions, but before ESTA is mandatory for all Visa Waiver Program travelers. For DHS to maintain its authority to admit certain countries into the program, it must incorporate biometric indicators (such as fingerprints) into the air exit system by July 1, 2009. However, DHS is unlikely to meet this timeline due to several unresolved issues.In addition, DHS does not fully consider countries' overstay rates when assessing illegal immigration risks in the Visa Waiver Program. Finally, DHS has implemented many recommendations from GAO's 2006 report, including screening U.S.-bound travelers against Interpol's lost and stolen passport database, but has not fully implemented others. Implementing the remaining recommendations is important as DHS moves to expand both the program and the department's oversight responsibilities.
    [Read More…]
  • Two Former Tennessee Correctional Officers Sentenced for Civil Rights Offenses
    In Crime News
    Two former Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) Correctional Officers were sentenced today for assaulting an inmate in violation of a federal civil rights statute. 
    [Read More…]
  • Deputy Secretary Sherman’s Participation in Roundtable on Apprenticeship in Switzerland
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Financial Audit: IRS’s FY 2020 and FY 2019 Financial Statements
    In U.S GAO News
    In GAO's opinion, the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) fiscal years 2020 and 2019 financial statements are fairly presented in all material respects, and although certain controls could be improved, IRS maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of September 30, 2020. GAO's tests of IRS's compliance with selected provisions of applicable laws, regulations, contracts, and grant agreements detected no reportable instances of noncompliance in fiscal year 2020. Limitations in the financial systems IRS uses to account for federal taxes receivable and other unpaid assessment balances, as well as other control deficiencies that led to errors in taxpayer accounts, continued to exist during fiscal year 2020.These control deficiencies affect IRS's ability to produce reliable financial statements without using significant compensating procedures. In addition, unresolved information system control deficiencies from prior audits, along with application and general control deficiencies that GAO identified in IRS's information systems in fiscal year 2020, placed IRS systems and financial and taxpayer data at risk of inappropriate and undetected use, modification, or disclosure. IRS continues to take steps to improve internal controls in these areas. However, the remaining deficiencies are significant enough to merit the attention of those charged with governance of IRS and therefore represent continuing significant deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting related to (1) unpaid assessments and (2) financial reporting systems. Continued management attention is essential to fully addressing these significant deficiencies. The CARES Act, enacted in March 2020, and other COVID-19 pandemic relief laws contained a number of tax relief provisions to address financial stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the Economic Impact Payments provisions in the CARES Act provided for direct payments for eligible individuals to be implemented through the tax code. Implementing the provisions related to these Economic Impact Payment required extensive IRS work, and resulted in it issuing approximately $275 billion in payments as of September 30, 2020. IRS faced difficulties in issuing these payments as rapidly as possible, such as in identifying eligible recipients, preventing improper payments, and combating fraud based on identity theft. IRS discusses the challenges in carrying out its responsibilities under the CARES Act in its unaudited Management's Discussion and Analysis, which is included with the financial statements. As part of monitoring and oversight of the federal government's efforts to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, GAO has issued a number of reports on federal agencies' implementation of the CARES Act and other COVID-19 pandemic relief laws, including reports providing information on, and recommendations to strengthen, IRS's implementation of the tax-related provisions. In accordance with the authority conferred by the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, as amended, GAO annually audits IRS's financial statements to determine whether (1) the financial statements are fairly presented and (2) IRS management maintained effective internal control over financial reporting. GAO also tests IRS's compliance with selected provisions of applicable laws, regulations, contracts, and grant agreements. IRS's tax collection activities are significant to overall federal receipts, and the effectiveness of its financial management is of substantial interest to Congress and the nation's taxpayers. Based on prior financial statement audits, GAO made numerous recommendations to IRS to address internal control deficiencies. GAO will continue to monitor, and will report separately, on IRS's progress in implementing prior recommendations that remain open. Consistent with past practice, GAO will also be separately reporting on the new internal control deficiencies identified in this year's audit and providing IRS recommendations for corrective actions to address them. In commenting on a draft of this report, IRS stated that it continues its efforts to improve its financial systems controls. For more information, contact Cheryl E. Clark at (202) 512-3406 or clarkce@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • COVID-19 Housing Protections: Mortgage Forbearance and Other Federal Efforts Have Reduced Default and Foreclosure Risks
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Many single-family mortgage borrowers who missed payments during the pandemic used the expanded mortgage forbearance provision in the CARES Act. This provision allowed borrowers with loans insured, guaranteed, made directly, purchased, or securitized by federal entities (about 75 percent of all mortgages) to temporarily suspend their monthly mortgage payments. Use of the forbearance provision peaked in May 2020 at about 7 percent of all single-family mortgages (about 3.4 million) and gradually declined to about 5 percent by February 2021, according to GAO's analysis of the National Mortgage Database. As of February 2021, about half of all borrowers who used forbearance during the pandemic remained in forbearance. In addition, Black and Hispanic borrowers, who were more likely to have been economically affected by the pandemic, used forbearance at about twice the rate of White borrowers. Forbearance was also more common among borrowers at a greater risk of mortgage default—specifically, first-time, minority, and low- and moderate-income homebuyers with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration and rural homebuyers with loans guaranteed by the Rural Housing Service (see fig. 1). Figure 1: Estimated Percentage of Single-Family Mortgage Loans in Forbearance, by Loan Type (January 2020–February 2021) A small percentage of borrowers who missed payments during the pandemic have not used forbearance—less than 1 percent of those covered by the CARES Act. Yet, borrowers who have not used forbearance may be at a greater risk of default and foreclosure, according to GAO's analysis of the National Mortgage Database. For example, these borrowers tended to have lower subprime credit scores, indicating an elevated risk of default, compared to borrowers who were current or in forbearance, who tended to have higher prime or near prime credit scores. Federal agencies and the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the enterprises) have taken steps to make these borrowers aware of forbearance options, such as through direct phone calls and letters. In addition, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) amended mortgage servicing rules in June 2021 to require servicers to discuss forbearance options with borrowers shortly after any delinquency. Foreclosures declined significantly during the pandemic because of federal moratoriums that prohibited foreclosures. The number of mortgages entering foreclosure decreased by about 85 percent on a year-over-year basis from June 2019 to June 2020 and remained as low through February 2021, according to mortgage data provider Black Knight (see fig. 2). Figure 2: Number of Single-Family Mortgage Loans Entering Foreclosure, by Month (June 2019–February 2021) Note: Foreclosure data were only available through February 2021 at the time of our review. The number of new foreclosures includes vacant and abandoned properties and non-federally backed loans, which the CARES Act did not cover. Federal entities have taken additional steps to limit pandemic-related mortgage defaults and foreclosures. Federal housing agencies and the enterprises have expanded forbearance options to provide borrowers with additional time to enter and remain in forbearance. In addition, they streamlined and introduced new loss mitigation options to help borrowers reinstate their loans after forbearance, including options to defer missed payments until the end of a mortgage. Borrowers in extended forbearances generally have large expected repayments—an average of $8,300 as of February 2021, according to the National Mortgage Database. As a result, delinquent borrowers exiting forbearance have most commonly deferred repayment, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Further, CFPB's amended mortgage servicing rules allow servicers to streamline processing of loss mitigation actions and establish procedural safeguards to help limit avoidable foreclosures until January 1, 2022. The risk of a spike in defaults and foreclosures is further mitigated by the relatively strong equity position of borrowers due to rapid home price appreciation. Home equity—or the difference between a home's current value and any outstanding loan balances—can help borrowers with ongoing hardships avoid foreclosure by allowing them to refinance their mortgage or sell their home to pay off the remaining balance. According to GAO's analysis of the National Mortgage Database, few borrowers (about 2 percent) who were in forbearance or delinquent in February 2021 did not have home equity after accounting for home price appreciation. By comparison, during the peak of foreclosures in 2011 after the 2007–2009 financial crisis, about 17 percent of all borrowers and 44 percent of delinquent borrowers had no home equity (see fig. 3). Figure 3: Estimated Percentage of Single-Family Mortgage Borrowers without Home Equity as of 2020 and 2011, by Loan Type and Status Why GAO Did This Study Millions of mortgage borrowers continue to experience financial challenges and potential housing instability during the COVID-19 pandemic. To address these concerns, Congress, federal agencies, and the enterprises provided borrowers with options to temporarily suspend their mortgage payments and placed a moratorium on foreclosures. Both provisions begin to expire in the coming months. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to monitor federal efforts related to COVID-19. This report examines (1) the extent to which mortgage forbearance may have contributed to housing stability during the pandemic, (2) federal efforts to promote awareness of forbearance among delinquent borrowers, and (3) federal efforts to limit mortgage default and foreclosure risks after federal mortgage forbearance and foreclosure protections expire. GAO analyzed data on mortgage performance and the characteristics of borrowers who used forbearance from January 2020 to February 2021 using the National Mortgage Database (a federally managed, generalizable sample of single-family mortgages). GAO also reviewed data from Black Knight and the Mortgage Bankers Association on foreclosures and forbearance repayment. In addition, GAO interviewed representatives of federal entities about efforts to communicate with borrowers and limit default and foreclosure risks. To highlight potential risks, GAO also analyzed current trends in home equity among delinquent borrowers relative to the 2007–2009 financial crisis. For more information, contact John Pendleton at (202) 512-8678 or PendletonJ@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
Network News © 2005 Area.Control.Network™ All rights reserved.