30th November 2020 at 1:30 pm #338
Abiy Ahmed Ali lies
Speaking about Tigray refugees in Sudan, Abiy Ahmed Ali told MPs “There are no women and children [among them]. Those who are said to be refugees are only young [men]. Time will tell who are those youngsters.”
Nearly half of the refugees are children and women constitute a significant number of all registered adults. We saw and spoke to many of them in the refugee camps we visited in Sudan.
Ethiopia Autonomous Media30th November 2020 at 4:01 pm #33930th November 2020 at 4:11 pm #340
President Sahle-Work Zewde is on an official visit to Djibouti
President Sahle-Work Zewde is on an official visit to Djibouti where she served as Ethiopia’s ambassador for close to 10 years.
The President who arrived in Djibouti this morning held talks with President Ismail Omar Guelleh on bilateral and regional issues.
Ethiopia Autonomous Media30th November 2020 at 4:24 pm #341
Ethiopian refugees wait in line for a meal at the Um Rakuba refugee camp, on the Sudan-Ethiopia border
International Committee of the Red Cross say hospitals & health facilities in Tigray state capital Mekelle are running low on medical supplies. Say Ayder Referral Hospital is low on sutures, antibiotics, food supplies painkillers and body bags for the deceased.
Let’s be honest! Just now the end of TPLF! Please stop and think again! What TPLF has done to Tigray people,27 yrs?How many Tigrians are suffering from deep poverty!Tigray people need change! Need peace and prosperity! Tigray people need to live with Amhara and Eritrean people!
Ethiopia Autonomous Media12th December 2020 at 6:40 pm #494
Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced as fighting continues
Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced as fighting continues between government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in northern Ethiopia, threatening the stability of a volatile region. Cameron Hudson, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center and former director for African affairs at the National Security Council joins to discuss the conflict and its impact.
For more on the continuing conflict in Ethiopia and the impact it is having on the region, I spoke with Cameron Hudson, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center and former Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration.
Cameron, we’ve been reporting on the momentary kind of strife that’s been happening on a weekend by weekend basis, but if you could explain for us, put this in perspective, what is the conflict about?
Well, the conflict is really about kind of ethnic federalism.
Ethiopia is made up of 10 different ethnic regions and a lot of autonomy has been devolved down to that regional level. And as part of Prime Minister Abiy’s kind of overall democratic reform process, he really sought to erase a lot of those ethnic differences in the country and promoted a kind of pan-Ethiopian nationalism, almost. And I think what you’re seeing here, certainly in the Tigray region, which is traditionally where the power center has been in the country, is a feeling that they have been sort of capsid in the political process in the country. And you’re seeing now a kind of more formalized agitation for a return to kind of ethnic federalism and the promotion of ethnic rights. And so, it is really part of a democratic reform process that Abiy has been undertaking, but which probably hasn’t had enough buy in from all of these ethnic minorities across the country.
I mean, this is a person who won a Nobel Peace Prize. Yet here he is, part of a conflict that has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
The Nobel Prize was obviously for an international effort to heal wounds of the war with Eritrea, which took place in the late 1990s. What we’re seeing now, though, is Eritrea, as the partner in peace, may have now become the partner in war.
We have seen cooperation between Ethiopia and Eritrea and even the active involvement of the Eritrean forces in this conflict in Tigray. And so I think that with respect to the Nobel, people are asking whether it was premature. I think it was a kind of a hoped-for movement in a direction of peace. But what we’re seeing is his effort to make peace with Eritrea is not a reflection on his tactics domestically.
What are the consequences for the countries surrounding this region as displaced people start to head for those borders?
Well, it’s huge.
I mean, you cannot underestimate the, frankly, the beneficial role that Ethiopia has played in the region. It is the largest provider of peacekeeping forces on the continent of Africa, and it has played an essential role in conflicts in Somalia and Sudan in recent years. It is the largest provider of peacekeepers in the Somali conflict, which we as a US government have spent billions being a part of and trying to stabilize that country.
We’re on the precipice of seeing Ethiopian troops completely withdrawn from that theater in advance of of elections there. Obviously, they’ve also been a major peacemaker and mediator in conflicts in both Sudan, the revolution, the democratic revolution that’s been going on there and the civil conflict that took place in South Sudan just a few years ago.
So if we see Ethiopia move from the traditional role of peacemaker and mediator to a net exporter of instability, then you could see an entire region really, really destabilized going forward.
Tell me a little bit about the humanitarian crisis that happens when all these people leave their homes.
Well, right now, it’s really hard to assess the degree of the humanitarian crisis because the region has been so cut off to outside humanitarian assistance and even communications. So even though this week the U.N. reached an agreement with the Abiy government to allow humanitarian access into the region, we’ve seen that fighting up until today, up and through today, has really prevented those assessment missions from even getting eyes on the situation.
But we do know that even before this conflict started, this was an incredibly insecure region. As much as 20 percent of the population was food insecure, there were over a hundred thousand internally displaced — there are estimates now that there are a million internally displaced people.
We really only have access to about the 50,000 or so that have crossed the border in the last few weeks into Sudan. But when we know that there are pockets of of internally displaced that we are not able to access and the fears are growing, that those are populations that were surviving on international assistance, that international assistance has been cut off for the last month of fighting. And so we really don’t know what we’re going to find when we’re finally able to access those areas.
If the fighting officially comes to an end, does that mean that the forces that are in opposition just literally head for the hills and fight from there?
Well, that seems to be what’s happening right now. I mean, last weekend there was this very tense standoff around the regional Tigrayan capital of Mekelle, which was encircled essentially by federal government troops. The siege of Mekelle never happened because the Tigran leaders and have fled into the mountains surrounding the region.
I think we have to recall Ethiopia’s recent history. It fought a very long war against a communist Derg where the TPLF, the Tigrayan Party, essentially led a counterinsurgency campaign from the hills to overthrow this communist regime. And so I think there’s a great fear that they’re going to kind of return to their roots and not fight a conventional fight against federal government forces, but instead go to the mountains and try for a sort of asymmetrical warfare. And in that case, it might not be limited to the Tigray region. You could see conflict spilling over into other parts of the country, trying to draw in these other ethnic groups into the fight that they have started.
Cameron Hudson, thanks so much for joining us.
Ethiopia Autonomous Media12th December 2020 at 6:50 pm #495
Ethiopia returning thousands of refugees to Eritrea
In a development the United Nations has called “disturbing,” Ethiopia on Friday said it was returning thousands of refugees who ran from camps in its Tigray region as war swept through, putting them on buses back to the border area with Eritrea, the country from which the refugees originally fled.
The news came as the United States said it believes Eritrean troops are active in Ethiopia, something it called a “grave development”. A State Department spokesperson in an email cited credible reports and said “we urge that any such troops be withdrawn immediately”.
The UN refugee chief, Filippo Grandi, said that “over the last month, we have received an overwhelming number of disturbing reports of Eritrean refugees in Tigray being killed, abducted and forcibly returned to Eritrea. If confirmed, these actions would constitute a major violation of international law”. He said his agency has met with some refugees in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and he again urged unhindered humanitarian access to Tigray.
Ethiopia said its recently completed military offensive against the now-fugitive Tigray regional government “was not a direct threat” to the 96,000 “misinformed” Eritrean refugees — even as aid groups said four staffers had been killed in the fighting, at least one in a refugee camp.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this week said Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed, last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, “guaranteed to me that (Eritrean forces) have not entered Tigrayan territory”. But Tigray residents have asserted that gunfire came from the direction of Eritrea as the conflict began.
Eritrea, described by rights groups as one of the world’s most repressive countries, is a bitter enemy of the fugitive Tigray government.
The UN’s refugee agency said it hadn’t been informed in advance of the Eritrean refugees’ return. “We received alarming messages from Eritreans living abroad and when we looked into them, ascertained that several hundred refugees had been put on buses this morning to be returned to the Tigray region,” it said.
Any forced return, it said, “would be absolutely unacceptable”.
Given the trauma that refugees say they witnessed in Tigray, they should be protected elsewhere, the agency said. It said the refugee camps have had no access to food or other supplies for more than a month.
The International Organisation for Migration said it was “extremely concerned” about the refugees’ “forced” return and denied it was involved, saying Ethiopia took over one of its transit centres in the capital, Addis Ababa, on December 3.
Aid groups say thousands of Eritrean refugees had fled to Addis Ababa and the Tigray capital, Mekele. Ethiopia said their “unregulated movement” makes it difficult to ensure their security.
Their camps are now stable and under “full control,” Ethiopia said, adding that food delivery there “is underway”.
But communication and transport links to Tigray remain so challenging that the International Rescue Committee said it was still trying to confirm details around the killing of a colleague in the Hitsats refugee camp in Shire town, the base of aid operations.
Separately, the Danish Refugee Council said three staffers who worked as guards at a project site were killed last month. It was not clear where, but the group also supports the Eritrean refugees.
“Sadly, due to the lack of communications and ongoing insecurity in the region, it has not yet been possible to reach their families,” the group said.
“Now, more than ever, it is a matter of urgency to cease all hostilities,” the European Union’s commissioner for crisis management, Janez Lenarcic, said while condemning the killings.
Food rations scarce
Tigray remains largely sealed off from the world five weeks after fighting erupted between Ethiopia’s government and the Tigray one following a months-long power struggle. The governments regard each other as illegitimate, the result of months of friction since Abiy took office in 2018 and sidelined the once-dominant Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
Thousands of people are thought to have been killed in the fighting that began Nov. 4 and has threatened to destabilise the Horn of Africa.
Ethiopia rejects “interference” as fighting reportedly continues, while the UN has pleaded for neutral, unfettered access. “Food rations for displaced people in Tigray have run out,” the UN humanitarian office tweeted.
“Every day that we don’t have access is a day lost. Every day that we don’t have access is a day that increases the suffering of civilians,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters, and he referred questions to Ethiopia’s side.
Ethiopia says it is responsible for ensuring the security of aid efforts — though the conflict and related ethnic tensions have left many Tigrayans wary of government forces.
On Friday, Ethiopia said it had begun delivering aid to areas in Tigray under its control, including Shire and Mekele, a city of a half-million people.
“Suggestions that humanitarian assistance is impeded due to active military combat in several cities and surrounding areas within the Tigray region is untrue and undermines the critical work undertaken by the National Defence Forces to stabilise the region,” the prime minister’s office said, noting only “sporadic gunfire” remained.
Some 6 million people live in Tigray. About 1 million are now thought to be displaced. The impact on civilians has been “appalling,” the UN human rights chief said this week.
This week, Ethiopia said its forces shot at and briefly detained UN staffers conducting their first security assessment in Tigray, a crucial step in delivering aid. Ethiopia said they were trying to go where they weren’t allowed.
Meanwhile, nearly 50,000 Ethiopians have fled to Sudan and more are still arriving.
“The recent groups coming from areas deeper inside Tigray are arriving weak and exhausted, some reporting they spent two weeks on the run inside Ethiopia as they made their way to the border,” UN refugee spokesman Babar Baloch told reporters. “They have told us harrowing accounts of being stopped by armed groups and robbed of their possessions.”
Without access in Ethiopia, he said, “we are unable to verify these disturbing reports”.