Tag: Ethiopia

Ethiopia Plays Double Game Sudan Protests
Middle East & Africa

Ethiopia Plays Double Game Sudan Protests

Sudan Protests: Sudan is up and arms against Ethiopia over the latter sending its military planes into Sudanese airspace. 

It is being considered an ‘unjustified and dangerous’ escalation between the nations that had recently been subsided. Further armed Ethiopian gangs have also taken lives in the Sudanese area. 

Sudanese military, Lieutenant General Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan said that Ethiopians have been attacking in their last for close to two decades. 

This is with regards to the disputed al-Fashaga area.

In December, both sides had formed a committee to come on a common ground over the Al-Fashaga area, but the fresh attack seems to show that the Ethiopian side does not solicit the agreement at all. 

 In fact, it seems that the Ethiopian military has taken advantage of the internal strife that has broken out in the Tigray region and attacked the disputed land. This was communicated by the Ethiopian ambassador in Khartoum, Mulugeta Zewde.

In response, the Ambassador to Ethiopia, Yibeltal Aemero has shifted the blame on Sudan instead, saying that “Very recently, in the first week of November 2020, we witnessed unprecedented military incursion by the Sudan while the joint special committee was still in progress and when the Ethiopian National Defense forces moved to Tigray region on November, 4, 2020 for the law enforcement majors, the Sudanese army took the advantage and entered deep inside Ethiopian territory, looted properties, burned camps, detained, attacked and killed the Ethiopians while displacing thousands.”

The recent attacks have led to displacements in more than 34 Sudanese villages. The reality is explicit and could lead to another major confrontation between Sudan and Ethiopian sides. 

Trilateral Talks Lead To Stalemate Over River Nile Dam Project Again
Middle East & Africa

Trilateral Talks Lead To Stalemate Over River Nile Dam Project Again

Nile Dam Project: The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam is not going to be the cementing force between three nations after all. Despite conversations back and forth between the leaders, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt are unable to come to a common agreement ground. 

The bone of contention is- which country should be allowed to dominate the experts’ committee. Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas said his government insists on maximizing the role of AU experts to have them facilitate the negotiations and bridge the gaps between the three countries. The African Union (AU) is headquartered in Ethiopia. 

But the three countries’ discussion has hit a stalemate when Sudan’s special request to interact with the experts committee was rejected by both Cairo and Addis Ababa. 

On January 3, Sudan had filed a request to arrange a bilateral meeting with the African Union experts before the tripartite ministerial meeting on January 10. Now, the three nations cannot come to common ground over Ethiopia deciding to release water in the dam, as Sudan fears for the safety of its existing dams. 

For Egypt, the Blue Nile is the lifeline. With a population of over 100million, Egypt’s dependency on the Nile is heavy. It uses the river’s water for domestic and agricultural purposes. It therefore believes its role in the dam’s construction is of paramount importance to the existence of the Egyptian people itself.  Almost 85percent of the Blue Nile originates from Ethiopia, which has suggested the plan to construct the dam.

The dam would connect the Blue with the White Nile that originates from Sudan. The construction would actually be able to pull many people out of misery and poverty. For one, it would solve the electricity problem for inhabitants near the river. Another Egyptian and Sudanese insecurity circles around whether Ethiopia would release more water to them, as and when a drought like situation arises. Droughts are becoming common to these nations due to the changing environmental conditions. 

Ironically, the dam is being financed by Ethiopia itself. Technically, it should be the country calling the shorts. Additionally, the dam will also generate 12000 new jobs, apart from generating almost 15,128GWh of power a year from when it becomes operational. This would increase Ethiopia’s power generation capacity four times from its previous capacity. 

Almost 75 percent of the project was completed in July 2020. 

Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia resume talks over Nile dam dispute
Middle East & Africa

Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia resume talks over Nile dam dispute

Nile dam dispute: Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have agreed on resuming negotiations to settle the Nile dam dispute

Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt on Sunday agreed on resuming talks to resolved the long-running dispute over the massive dam on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa. 

According to Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Hafez, foreign and irrigation ministers of the three countries met online to hold fresh talks to negotiate the deal. The meeting was called by the current head of the African Union (AU), South Africa. As per a statement released by Sudan’s water ministry, officials, experts and observers from the three countries, AU and the United States participated in the virtual conference.

The statement also confirmed that this week’s discussions are aimed at concluding the negotiations to reach a deal by the end of January 2021. 

“The talks will pave way for the resumption of tripartite negotiations on Sunday, January 10 in the hope of concluding by the end of January,” the ministry said, as quoted by reports. 

Earlier attempts to initiate three-way negotiations to enter an agreement between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia failed after Khartoum did not attend the talks called by South Africa in November 2020.

The dispute refers to a 2011 hydropower project centering to the filling and operation of the huge reservoir behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The largest hydroelectric dam in Africa has caused unprecedented tensions between the three countries in the region. 

Egypt is fearing that the dam would gravely impact its source of water, noting that 97 percent of its drinking and irrigation water come from the Nile. Sudan, on the other hand, has warned that several lives would be affected in the region in the absence of a concrete deal.

Egypt and Sudan have also expressed concerns over the amount of water Ethiopia will release downstream in case of a multi-year drought. In this regard, both countries have called for a legally binding agreement to resolved the dispute.

However, the Addis Ababa government has insisted that downstream water supplies to these countries will not be affected. In its defence, Ethiopia, the second-most-populous country in Africa, has also maintained that its 110 million people is significantly dependent on the hydroelectric power produced at the $4.6 billion dam.

After weeks of boycotting the talks, Sudan urged the African Union to intervene in the negotiations to reach a deal. 

In July 2020, Ethiopia has announced that it successfully reached its first-year target for filling the dam’s reservoir. 

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. 

Tigray crisis: ethnic dimension to conflict sparks fear of racial cleansing in Ethiopia
Middle East & Africa

Tigray crisis: ethnic dimension to conflict sparks fear of racial cleansing in Ethiopia

Tigray crisis: Ethiopia is under rampant and aggressive conflict in the Tigray region led by long time friction between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The offensive led by Abiy Ahmed makes it clear emphasizing that the conflict is against the ‘criminal’ dominant party in the northern Tigray region, TPLF. But recent reports from Ethiopian citizens tell an entirely different story. The citizens inhabiting the region claim of an ethnic dimension and racial profiling in the ongoing conflict. The government, however, has rejected of any such activities and has instead argued that any action in the region is backed by a security reason. 

Many people in the security forces and military have reported of being ordered to stay home and have been stripped off weapons. One such female officer, employed in police forces for over 20 years, has come forward with her story. She shares of being part of TPLF before joining police. Two days after fighting began between two sides, she received orders from superiors to “hand over all government property and my firearm.” Similarly, many senior ranking officials who are Tigrayan, too have been given same orders.

Government hasn’t cleared the allegations but has condemned any such actions if true. Mamo Mihretu, senior advisor to PM Abiy Ahmed said, “There is a clear instruction to the security agencies to take their measures based on risk and actionable intelligence.” He added that actions were aimed at “hardliners – disgruntled and reactionary elements of the TPLF.”

Few soldiers with long service in federal forces too have reported of being singled out due to their Tigrayan ethnicity. This has come out as a shock as Abiy Ahmed, last year’s winner of Nobel Peace Prize, since coming to power in 2018 has stressed on national integrity and unity while respecting individual rights and identities of Ethiopian people, country which has 10 federal states of separate ethnicities. The fallout as a result of conflict has raised questions on Ahmed’s ability to follow the initial position. 

Another shocking incident has come to light. A soldier shares that he was detained in a warehouse along with at least 90 armed forces soldiers who were Tigrayan. They were detained by fellow soldiers and were treated as ‘prisoners of war’. He added, “It was only the Tigrayans who were disarmed and detained together. So, it’s obviously based on our ethnicity.” 

Detained soldiers and officials include the veterans who were a part of the 1991’s struggle of TPLF against Marxist dictator Mengistu Hailemaiam. After he was toppled, TPLF became a strong political entity in Ethiopia. But after Abiy Ahmed came to power, the TPLF was sidelined. Veterans who had served in African Union in Somalia too are among the detained officials. 

Tigrayans constitute 6% of the total Ethiopian population. Other major ethnic groups in the country are Oromo (34%), Amhara (27%), Somali (6.2%), Sidama (4%), Gurage (2.5%), Wolayta (2.3%) and Hadiya (1.7%). 

But the ethnic profiling accusation is not limited to military and police officers, but also civilians. The homes of Tigrayan civilians are being searched by armed forces, their bank account documents seized and capturing people. 

UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) officials have said that they were approached by police officers at the Amhara office and asked them of details of their employees along with birthplaces. 

The fear is that if the conflict extends then ethnic profiling can be a big problem with looming fear of ethnic cleansing. 

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has urged international community to “standby until the government of Ethiopia submits its request for assistance”. 

Deadline set by government for rebels to surrender is set to expire on Wednesday. This will mark three weeks of ongoing fighting in Tigray region. 

‘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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