Category Archives: Conflict

Ethiopia 10M reward for TPLF ‘wanted’

Brussels 19.12.2020 Ethiopian authorities offered a 10 million birr (app.€200,000) reward on Friday, December 18, for information on the location of the heads of the leading party in northern Tigray region. The reward for information, leading to the key figures of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was announced on state-run broadcaster EBC and tweeted by a government taskforce.

TPLF leaders, highly likely hiding in surrounding the capital city Mekelle mountains since they abandoned it on Novembrer 28, had insist that they continue resistance.

Thousands of people are believed to have been killed and nearly a million fled their homes after two years of feuding between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray region degraded in a military assault in early November.

Aid agencies have warned of a humanitarian crisis unfolding in Tigray, where about 600,000 people were depended on food aid even before the conflict erupted.

The United Nations and other agencies are still pressing for safe access to most of the Tigray region.

The U.N. World Food Programme sent 11 trucks worth of food to two Eritrean refugee camps in the southern part of Tigray that arrived in the camps on Wednesday, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

Despite the arrival of some aid, needs are increasing, OCHA spokesman Saviano Abreu said. “People have now been living for more than six weeks with no running water, no access to health services, no cash and very limited access to food.”

He said the United Nations was still negotiating with the Ethiopian government for full and unhindered access and reiterated the global body’s call for all parties to allow all aid groups into Tigray.

There are no possibilities to re-establish contacts with Tigray journalists, because Abiy Ahmed has blocked telecom, in spite of the repeated calls from international community to reconnect all of Tigray.
Over six weeks the population of the region suffers consequences of shutdown of telecom, absence of humanitarian aid, food, fuel, medicine, portable water, electricity, and bank services. All contacts of Africa Diplomatic Magazine from Mekelle have been silent for six weeks.

Mozambique in MEPs focus

Brussels 15.12.2020 “The crisis in the northern part of Mozambique is already causing more than half a million displaced people and more than 2,000 deaths” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, while debating the situation with Mozambique with the Members of the European Parliament in Brussels.

“And we, the European Union, continue to try to help through the humanitarian, development and peace-building axis, defending human rights at the centre of our response.

As if that were not enough, Cabo Delgado, one of the poorest provinces in Mozambique, with a tremendously fragile social structure, was devastated by Cyclone Kenneth in 2019. This has only aggravated a situation that is now complicated by the extension of the terrorism that comes from the north, from Somalia.

We have specialised teams working on the situation in Mozambique. We have permanent contacts with the government and with international institutions, the United Nations, the African Union and the United States.

We have allocated 100 million euros in the resilience program with the government to respond to the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19. And, of course, we are ready to study the possibility of contributing more resources.

This year we have already contributed 37 million euros in humanitarian aid, primarily to Cabo Delgado.

We are strengthening cooperation with all countries in the region, combating the impact of human trafficking – which, unfortunately, will increase with this situation – and helping to implement the Maputo peace agreement between the Mozambican government and RENAMO.
But the prospects are not positive, ladies and gentlemen. The situation in Mozambique is deteriorating under the protection and heat of natural disasters and of a country with extremely serious government difficulties.

In reality, it is the entire façade from the Horn of Africa to the Indian Ocean that is being the scene of an extension of conflicts and the spread of terrorist forces.

We are very concerned about the situation. It does not appear that we have improved in the Somalia area to the south. The recent tensions between Somalia and Kenya are not going to help either, but within Mozambique we must surely take stronger measures.

I have asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal [Augusto Santos Silva], who will assume the presidency shortly, to travel to the region as my personal envoy – since I cannot go due to scheduling reasons – and I have asked him as colleague of the [Foreign Affairs] Council, please pay special attention during your presidency to what is happening in that country, which Portugal knows very well.

Is what I can tell you. I cannot bring you many positive elements, just rest assured that we mobilize all the resources we have to act in Mozambique”.

Saharawi: EU for UN-led talks

Brussels 14.12.2020 “Western Sahara future should be solved in political negotiations. We call for quick resumption of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) to find lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the issue”, the spokesperson of the European External Actions Service said, while reacting upon recent events around the status of Western Sakhara.
(Image: illustration).
The EU diplomat placed the issue into broader international context, not limiting it to the 27 bloc to Mediterranean neighborhood, while commenting on the future of Saharawi people, and possible autonomy status within the Kingdom of Morocco.
(Image: illustration, archive)

The EU diplomacy spokesperson also added that the negotiations should be conducted in compliance with the U.N. resolutions on Western Sahara, in particular the last one from October 2020. (Adopting resolution 2548 (2020) by 13 votes in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (Russian Federation, South Africa), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 October 2021).
“In this context we are looking forward to appointment of the new personal envoy of the United Nations in order to pursue this political process, but the future determination of the status of the Western Sahara, the future of its people – from European point of view – should be decided in political process under the auspices of the U.N.

The Sahrawis largely depend on outside help to survive. In the remote region where the refugee camps are located, access to basic resources such as food, water, healthcare, housing, and education is limited. The climate in the desert is extremely harsh. 

A 2019 nutrition survey (World Food Programme, June 2019) found increasing malnutrition among the Sahrawi refugee children, with global acute malnutrition among under the age of 5 at 7.6% compared to 4.7% in 2016. Half of the number children and women also suffer from anaemia.

The largely isolated camps offer almost no employment opportunities, making refugees dependent on remittances and international aid. In such a remote location, logistics also play a key role to ensure regular distributions of relief to the refugee population. 

Social cohesion and peace are extremely fragile in the camps, with young people growing frustrated by the lack of opportunities or change due to the political stalemate. Livelihood activities are therefore crucial to reduce the risk of radicalisation or social unrest. The Sahrawi desert refugee camps are prone to natural hazards such as flash floods and sandstorms. In February 2020, it was confirmed the coronavirus had spread to Algeria, leading to curfew measures across the country and in the camps.

Ethiopia announces Tigray defeat

Brussels 05.12.2020 Ethiopia government announced it had captured or killed most commanders of a Tigray region militia, while Tigray’s local leader countered on Friday, December 5, that civilians in Mekelle, the region’s capital, were protesting against looting by occupying troops. (Image: Tigray region, source: social media).

In the context of the ban to press to enter the area, it is impossible to verify the information, while neither of the warring parties presented any evidence for their assertions about the month-long military operation in the mountainous region bordering Eritrea and Sudan. The local power station was bombed, and there has been electricity shortage since; while the internet shutdown is still in place, preventing Tigray to communicate with the rest of word.

In spite of the ongoing calls of the European Union, the UN and NGOs, the access of journalists, and humanitarian workers to Tigray region has not been granted.
“…The international humanitarian law must be upheld under all circumstances and any violations be accounted for in line with the international standards and instruments”, the European External Actions Service spokesperson said, while responding to unfolding crisis in Tigray region.

“… We are following the situation in Ethiopia with great attention and coordinating very closely with the regional and international actors, our message is clear and focused on the secession of hostilities, and of the ethnic-targeted violence, protection of the civilians, in particular IDPs and refugees” the EU diplomacy spokesperson reiterated, however in vain.

An assault of federal troops upon Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s orders against Tigray militia loyal to the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), started on November 4. Thousands of people are believed to perish while more 50,000 refugees have crossed to neighbouring Sudan.

TPLF leaders, who relay on strong popular support in Tigray, appear to have retreated to surrounding mountains and declared they have begun a guerrilla-style resistance.

Debretsion Gebremichael, who is leading the Tigray militia, reportedly sent a text message about mass protests in Mekelle, where 500,000 inhabitants stood up against the looting by Eritrean soldiers.

“Eritrean soldiers are everywhere,” he said, Reuters reports, repeating an accusation that President Isaias Afwerki has sent soldiers over the border to back Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed against their mutual foe.

Tigray protests in Mekelle

Brussels 04.12.2020 The leader of Ethiopia’s Tigray region forces said that protests were breaking out in Mekelle, the capital, which fell according to central government to federal troops days ago, claiming to conclude the military operation which lasted for a month. The the context of the ongoing ban issued in Addis-Ababa prohibiting journalists to enter the region, and internet blackout, there are no press reports on the situation available at the moment to confirm the claims of the warring parties. (Image: barricades in Mekelle, source social media).

Debretsion Gebremichael, who is leading the TPLF, told Reuters news agency in a text message on December 4 that there were popular protests in Mekelle, which is home to 500,000 people, due to looting by Eritrean soldiers.
“Eritrean soldiers are everywhere,” he said, repeating an accusation that President Isaias Afwerki has sent soldiers over the border to back Abiy (Ahmed) against their mutual foe. Both Ethiopia and Eritrea have denied that.

On contrary to Tigray announcement, the Ethiopian state TV showed images of people shopping and sitting on stools in Mekelle, while the new government-appointed chief executive of Tigray said peace was returning to the area.

The combat between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s federal army and regional forces loyal to ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), has erupted on November 4.

While there is an international media ban to enter Tigray region, claims from both sides have can not be verified, however according to the stories of the refugees who have crossed to neighbouring Sudan, there are thousands of killed civilians, whose corpses are exposed to decay.

TPLF leaders with the loyalists, who have enjoyed strong popular support for years in Tigray, were reported to retreat from Mekelle to the surrounding mountains and launched a guerrilla strategy response to the federal troops.

Tigray crisis swells

Brussels 03.12.2020 Humanitarian agencies and NGOs in Ethiopia prepared convoys on Thursday, December 3, to transport aid into Tigray region, where during an assault of governmental forces thousands of people are feared to be killed, and tens of thousands have been forced to flee to neighbouring Sudan .

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared victory over the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after federal forces entered the northern region’s capital Mekelle.

On contrary the TPLF leaders said they have ton surrendered, but retreated into surrounding mountains in an emerging guerrilla strategy. “The war is a people’s war and will not end easily,” its spokesman Gebre Gebretsadkan said on Tigray TV, adding that fighting had continued round Mekelle, a city of half-a-million inhabitants.

According to the refugees there are ongoing clashes to the north, south and west of the Tigray region capital. In the context of the ban for press to enter the region there is a growing concern about the degradation of the situation for the civilians there, but also an urgent need to have an access of the journalists there to provide the first-hand information.

Diplomats in Addis Ababa say thousands of combatants and civilians have died since Abiy’s offensive began on November 4, after he referred to an alleged TPLF attack on a military base was the last straw in their argument. At present around 50 000 refugees have crossed into neighbouring Sudan, while many more have been displaced within Tigray region.

The refugees share harrowing stories about corpses which are left to decay along the roads, presumable the refugees, who failed to reach Sudan.

Borrell “shocked” by Borno state massacre

Brussels 29.11.2020 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell expressed his shock and sadness, and determination to continue to pursue cause of peace and stability in Africa, while reacting upon the massacre in Borno state, which took place during the weekend in Zabarmari village.

“Deeply shocked by yet another horrific attack targeting innocent civilians in the North-East of Nigeria.
We have to continue our collective engagement against terror and violence to provide peace, security and stability for all people in Africa” he wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

Dozens of the men killed were also beheaded in a gruesome attack, which began on Saturday morning, November 28, in Zabarmari village in northeast Borno state, but the residents said a total of hundred people are feared dead, and abducted. (Image source: social media)

President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the attack and said “the entire country is hurt,” describing the killings as “senseless”.

So far no Islamist group claimed responsibility, but usually such massacres are conducted by Boko Haram or the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). They are both active terrorising the farmers in the region, where Islamic militants have killed at least 30,000 people in the past decade.

In Zabarmari the mourners surrounded the bodies of 43 farmers, which were wrapped in white burial shrouds and placed on wooden pallets, as clerics led prayers for the deceased.

Amnesty International said 10 women were among those missing, presumably kidnapped by the attackers.

Borno state governor Babagana Zulum, speaking at the burials, called on the Federal government to recruit more soldiers, Civilian Joint Task Force members and civil defence fighters to protect farmers in the region.

He described desperate choices facing people: “In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he explained.

Food prices in Nigeria have risen dramatically over the past year, driven by flooding, border closures and insecurity in some food-producing areas, causing further difficulties for the population.

Villagers in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state on Sunday buried 43 farmers killed in an attack by suspected Islamist militants while security forces searched for dozens of people who are still missing.

Mekelle shrouded in unknown

Brussels 29.11.2020 While the EU multiples its calls for peace in Tigray region, the Ethiopian government launched a manhunt on Sunday, November 29, for leaders of the political leadership of The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after announcing Federal troops had taken over the regional capital Mekelle and the military operations were completed. In the context of an issued by the government ban of journalists to enter the area, and shutdown of the internet upon the Federal government orders, the narratives of refugees fleeing to Sudan remain the major source of information about the situation in Tigray.

However, TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael has communicated a message to the world that TPLF forces would fight on, raising the prospect that the violent episode could become a protracted regional conflict, destabilising the entire Horn of Africa, home to more than 200 million people.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed government has been at odds with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a powerful regional party that dominated the central Ethiopian government from 1991 until Abiy came to power in 2018. However the crisis has unfolded when the TPLF has refused the prolongation of the Prime-minister terms under the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the evening, November 28, Abiy Ahmend said federal troops had taken control of the Tigrayan capital Mekelle within hours of launching an offensive there, causing grave concerns over the protracted street fighting and shelling in the city of 500,000 people.

The Prime minister, who refers to the three-week-old conflict as an internal law and order matter and has bluntly refused international offers of mediation, said Federal police will try to arrest TPLF “criminals” and bring them to court.

Meanwhile the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) expressed their deep concern by the current armed conflict between the Federal government of Ethiopia and the regional administration of Tigray led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), including the ongoing violence and allegations of serious breaches of fundamental human rights. They call on both parties to commit to an immediate ceasefire and to settle political differences by democratic means within the framework of the country’s constitution.

The resolution deplores the loss of life and killing of innocent civilians and the extrajudicial killings, regardless of their perpetrators. Parliament implores Ethiopia’s central government and the TPLF to take immediate action to deescalate the conflict and criticises the severe restrictions preventing humanitarian workers from accessing the area.

The text was adopted by 643 votes in favour, 5 against and 46 abstentions.

Ethiopia Foreign minister visits Brussels

Brussels, 24.11.2020 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell expressed in meeting with Demeke Mekonnen, Ethiopia Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, “EU concerns on current conflict”.
The head of the EU diplomacy reiterated the call for all parties to de-escalate.

“The stability of Ethiopia and the region is at stake” he has underlined. In a statement, issued after the visit, the EU diplomat said that Ethiopia is undergoing “challenging times”, and expressed his “great concern” regarding increasing ethnic-targeted violence, numerous casualties and violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law. He also conveyed his analysis that this conflict is already seriously destabilising the region.

“I also discussed the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, in Ethiopia and in the region, notably in Sudan. International Humanitarian Law needs to be upheld. On behalf of the EU, I have called for safe and free movement and protection of civilians, vulnerable groups and IDPs”, Borrell has underlined.

“The message of the EU is clear: we call on all parties to put in place the conditions that will facilitate unimpeded access to people in need, the cessation of hostilities, the non-interference of any external party, and the freedom of the media. Engagement with the High-Level Envoys appointed by the Chair of the African Union should open the door for a dialogue that is the only way forward to avoid further destabilisation”.

The Ethiopian high diplomat has also visited Rome, where he had talks with the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Abiy Ahmed sends troops to Mekelle

Brussels 22.11.2020 Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the expiration of a three-day ultimatum for Tigrayan leaders to surrender, and from that moment aimed at sending federal troops to Mekelle, the Tigray region capital. (Image: Tigray refugees in Sudan, source: social media).

“We urge you to surrender peacefully within 72 hours, recognising that you are at the point of no return,” Abiy wrote in a Twitter message on Sunday evening. There was no immediate comment from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which leads Tigray region.

Abiy’s statement came hours after an Ethiopian spokesman said the army plans to surround Mekelle with tanks and may attack it with artillery to end a nearly three-week war, urging civilians to “save themselves”.

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