Tag: Tigray crisis

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. 

https://twitter.com/abiyahmedali/status/1331853743810285575?s=21

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. 

The World Reviews

The World Reviews provides latest world news and brief stories. To know more news about world follow us.