Venable is providing US government outreach to Ethiopia under a $35K per-month contract that went into effect Feb. 1.
Ethiopia prime minister Abiy Ahmed launched an invasion of the separatist Tigray region of the country in November. That attack has triggered a humanitarian crisis as more than 60K Ethiopians, who are largely Christian, fled across the border to Sudan, which is a Muslim nation, seeking refuge.
Abiy took the helm of Africa’s second-most populous nation in 2018 with a promise to unite Ethiopia, but has struggled to contain growing ethnic violence, reported the New York Times.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke with Abiy on Feb. 4 and “expressed grave concern about the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region and urged immediate, full, and unhindered humanitarian access to prevent further loss of life,” according to the State Dept.
Venable’s contract runs through April 30 but may be extended upon mutually agreed to terms.
The engagement letter notes that Venable has agreed “not to perform governmental affairs work for any client that may be in opposition to the Embassy of Ethiopia.”
Venable partner Thomas Quinn, a long-time Democratic activist who worked on the Hubert Humphrey and Ted Kennedy presidential campaigns, heads the Ethiopian work.
Policy advisor Loren Aho, a former aide to Democratic congressman Bart Stupak, assists Quinn.
They report to Fitsum Gebrekida, Ethiopia’s ambassador extraordinary plenipotentiary.