Tag: Abiy Ahmed

UN aid to Ethiopia delayed amid continuing Tigray crisis, fear of looming humanitarian catastrophe
Middle East & Africa

UN aid to Ethiopia delayed amid continuing Tigray crisis, fear of looming humanitarian catastrophe

UN aid to Ethiopia: With almost a month into the conflict involving the northern part of Tigray region controlled by the TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) and the Addis Ababa based government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the fighting is continuing in the region. The United Nations has said that due to continuing conflicts in many parts of Tigray region of Ethiopia, the humanitarian aid is facing roadblocks to reach the affected and those in need. 

The UN has estimated that a million of people in the country are facing shortage of food and medicines. Though Ethiopian government had assured of unhindered access to humanitarian aid and workers in the conflict region under government control, UN says that there was still no access to the region as on Friday. 

Ethiopian military had entered Tigray capital city of Mekelle last weekend and had said that TPLF rebels are down under control and many key towns have been seized, citing the long going conflict on verge of ending. Rejecting the claims by government, TPLF said that the fighting is continuing. 

The conflict has led to hundreds and thousands of people from Tigray region dead. Hundreds have been displaced and forced to fled their homes to escape the bloody war. A large number of people have also fled to neighbouring Sudan. This has also raised concerns among UN experts fearing a looming humanitarian crisis in Sudan as well which is already experiencing a high influx of refugees from other African nations. 

TPLF leaders have said that “fighting is still going on in places near the city”. However, Zadig Abraha, Ethiopian minister in charge of democratization has rejected the claims saying “there is no war”.

TPLF forces have retreated from Mekelle to spare the city of any more damages through massive bombardments by the government, but fighting is still continuing in outskirts of the city. Getachew Reda, a TPLF Executive Committee member said that situation in Mekelle is “very tense”. He said, “People have no appetite whatsoever to countenance the invading forces.” 

Mr. Reda added, “My forces are fighting for the self-determination rights of their people. They are fighting gallantly and heroically and there is no reason why they should surrender. While we would not submit to any arm-twisting, we remain beholden to the need for peace.” 

On Wednesday, the UN said that it had reached an agreement with government to deliver aids to the Tigray region. But till Friday security assessments were still being conducted leading to a timeline of next week to make the aid available to people. 

Saviano Abreu, spokesman for the UN’s humanitarian co-ordination office said, “We have been granted this access, this agreement with the federal government. But we also have to have the same kind of agreement with all parties to the conflict to make sure we actually have unconditional free access to Tigray.” 

Tigray Crisis: TPLF still fighting against forces in Mekelle, release federal soldiers
Middle East & Africa

Tigray Crisis: TPLF still fighting against forces in Mekelle, release federal soldiers

TPLF still fighting against forces: The month-long conflict between Addis Ababa government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) in the northern region of Tigray has reached its “final phase”. The fighting is continuing in the region’s capital, Mekelle, which was taken under control by federal forces at weekend. TPLF’s leader Debretsion Gebremichael has also said that its fighters have retaken another city, Aksum, back from the military. But government claims that TPLF has been crushed and is in no position to engage in a guerilla war.

Hundreds and thousands of people have been killed in the conflict in Tigray region. Hundreds have been forced to fled and many displaced, spreading concern among UN and other human rights groups regarding the humanitarian crisis. 

PM Abiy Ahmed has said of no civilian killings as of Monday. The claims, however, can’t be confirmed of either side as the region has been completely cut off of any communication lines, including phone and internet. 

TPLF has also released over 4000 captured federal soldiers. They were held captive when the TPLF troops had attacked a military base in early November. This attack by Tigray forces was the last straw that had initiated the bloody conflict. 

In recent messages from TPLF leader, Gebremichael, he said that Tigray forces had shot down federal warplane and taken the pilot into captivity. Also, he said that “TPLF was close to Mekelle, fighting.”  

The claims have however been rubbished by the government. Abiy Ahmed announced that Mekelle had been captured by federal army on Saturday, marking it as “last phase” in the offensive. According to the ministers in Abiy Ahmed’s government, the TPLF rebels are “running for their lives.”

The most horrid part of the Tigray crisis is the lack and limited access of humanitarian aid in the conflict zone. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Sunday that the supplies in main hospital in Mekelle are running “dangerously low”, including body bags. But no official figure on number of injured or dead has been communicated. 

Though the government officials have ensured humanitarian aids and groups to carry out their work in Tigray, UN has called for better access saying “it is extremely concerned about the safety and welfare of civilians in Tigray”

TPLF troops have also been deployed to its border with Sudan to stop people fleeing to the neighbouring country. 

International community is urging Ethiopian government to open a dialogue for resolving the crisis. 

Tigray crisis: Ethiopian army advances with attacks, claims control on several towns
Middle East & Africa

Tigray crisis: Ethiopian army advances with attacks, claims control on several towns

Ethiopian army: Weeks into the conflict between Ethiopian army and the TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front in the north Tigray region of Ethiopia, army has advanced with what it calls the ‘final phase’ of the offensive in region to cease the TPLF control in the region. After the 72 hours deadline given by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to rebels to surrender expired on Wednesday, the army has begun its operation and proceeded its advancement towards the region. 

The army has claimed of since seizing control of many towns in the northern Tigray region. Lt. Gen. Hassan Ibrahim has communicated of capturing various towns including Wikro town, that lies north of Mekelle, capital city of Tigray. 

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The Tigray conflict has been gaining attention of human rights groups and activists, and the United Nations that are fearing a greater humanitarian crisis in the region due to bloody and aggressively advancing conflict. Till date hundreds and thousands of people have been killed and several have been forced to fled from their homes to escape the war and as the towns get seized by the Ethiopian army. Hundreds of people have also been reported to fled to neighbouring Sudan, which the UN fears can lead to crisis in Sudan also as the country is already receiving great influx of immigrants from other African countries. 

Ethiopian government has blocked all communication channels, including internet and mobile communications with Tigray region and hence exact details of fighting are tough to confirm. 

On Friday, PM Abiy Ahmed told African Union (AU) appointed peace envoy that civilians will be protected in the region. Ahmed had also previously told Mekelle civilians to stay at home. TPLF, the governing body in Tigray has vowed to keep fighting and refused to surrender. 

No humanitarian worker or AU envoy are allowed to visit the conflict zone and this has been raising concerns. UN has warned of war crimes due to absence of any neutral body in Tigray region. In response, Ethiopian authorities have said of opening a ‘humanitarian access route’ in region that well be overseen by Ethiopian government. They affirmed of their commitment to “work with UN agencies… to protect civilians and those who need it.”

On Thursday, army sealed its borders with Sudan to prevent people from fleeing the war in country. Already over 40,000 have been displaced. 

Experts at the UN fear that in absence of either side ready to settle down, the war can turn into a guerilla conflict. TPLF leader, Debretsion Gebremichael said that Tigray forces are “ready to die in defence of our right to administer our region.” The conflict has great chances of destabilizing the Horn of Africa. 

‘Spare Tigray civilians’: Ethiopia urged as PM gives rebels 72 hours to surrender
Middle East & Africa

‘Spare Tigray civilians’: Ethiopia urged as PM gives rebels 72 hours to surrender

Spare Tigray civilians: Ethiopia is facing humanitarian crisis to extremity, attracting international cries of sparing civilians in the Tigray region. Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed has given the Tigrayan rebel forces 72 hours to surrender as military advances on the capital, Mekelle. The rebels of region, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which control the mountainous region have pledged to keep fighting. 

The United Nations has warned of extreme humanitarian crisis in Tigray as hundreds and thousands of people have already succumbed to the conflict so far with thousands displaced. Over 36,000 people have reportedly fled to nearby Sudan and others are moving withing Tigray to escape from the war-torn region. Warning issued by Ethiopian government regarding attack on Mekelle may prompt further displacement of over half million inhabitants of the capital. 

On Sunday night, PM Abiy Ahmed posted on Twitter, “We urge you to surrender peacefully within 72hours, recognizing that you are at the point of no return.” 

Country’s military has warned civilians to separate themselves from the rebels who are believed to be hiding withing the civilian areas or no mercy will be offered in the assault. Military has said that tanks are encircling Mekelle and artillery too might be used on the highland capital city situated in northern Tigray region, that lies on a plateau at altitude of over 2,500 metres. 

Col. Dejene Tsegaye said that till now military has avoided targets that might risk civilians but noted that Mekelle might be a different case. He said, “The next phases are the decisive part of the operation, which is to encircle Mekelle using tanks, finishing the battle on mountainous areas and advancing to the fields.” 

Abiy Ahmed hinted last week of future attacks as “final push” to end the conflict withing few days. But assessment by UN says otherwise. UN suggests that Ethiopian military forces are facing resistance than is being communicated officially. Though troops were deployed days before, they are still struggling to secure territory. This, as per UN experts, raises chances of a lengthy and bloody guerilla war. 

The war is result of consummation of months of turmoil and conflicts between TPLF and ruling party in Addis Ababa. TPLF held the polling even after national elections were cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic. This further aggravated the tensions. Ahmed, last year’s winner of Nobel Peace Prize and Ethiopia’s youngest leader, commenced his aggressive operation after alleging TPLF to have attacked a military camp. 

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African Union (AU), who were appointed to mediate the conflict have not been allowed to visit the war-hit region by Ethiopian government. The envoy was appointed by AU President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, including in envoy former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The former presidents of envoy will only meet Abiy Ahmed and not visit the region, said senior advisor to the Ethiopian PM. 

Explaining the reason of not allowing the envoy to visit the war-torn region, the government official said, “Tigray is currently under military operation. We believe that the military operation will come to an end soon. If this disgruntled TPLF wants to bring an end to the current conflict all they need to do is peacefully surrender and for that nobody needs to go to Tigray or Mekelle to make that clear to them.”

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged to spare Ethiopian civilians who are inhabiting the Tigray capital city of Mekelle. The rising humanitarian crisis is leading to massive influx of refuges from Ethiopia to Sudan. UN fear that this will force Sudan to edge of the cliff as it is already supporting millions of displaced from other African nations.   

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