Tag Archives: Tigray region

Tigray on brink of famine

Brussels 03.07.2021 The United Nations said the conflict could rapidly flare again in Ethiopia’s Tigray and that famine was worsening in the region, where local fighters declared victory this week after an eight-month war with central government and allied forces.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front, provincial authorities which Ethiopian forces and troops from neighbouring Eritrea drove out last year, returned to regional capital Mekelle on Monday, June 28, to cheering crowds.

“There is potential for more confrontations and a swift deterioration in the security situation, which is extremely concerning,” U.N. political and peacebuilding affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the U.N. Security Council.

The Ethiopian government declared a unilateral ceasefire on Monday which the TPLF dismissed as a joke. There are reports of continued clashes in some places as pressure builds internationally for all sides to pull back.

Acting U.N. aid chief Ramesh Rajasingham said shortages of food had worsened dramatically over the past two weeks and some 400,000 people in Tigray were now estimated to be in famine, with another 1.8 million on the brink of famine.

Both Russia and China did not object to Friday July 2 public meeting of the UN Security Council on Tigray, but
they made clear that they believed the conflict is an internal affair for Ethiopia. Russia’s UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said: “We believe that interference by the Security Council in solving it is counterproductive.”
Russia and China are both council veto-powers, along with the U.S., France and UK.

Ethiopia elections legitimacy in doubt

Brussels 28.06.2021 Today the Ethiopians vote in general elections with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed seeking a popular mandate after his 2018 rise to power ended decades of authoritarian rule. But while Abiy’s victory is seen as probable, the international community is unlikely to see the election as legitimate amid voting delays, ongoing violence in Tigray and a boycott by some opposition parties.

Prime Minister Abiy is the subject of amplifying international criticism over alleged rights violations in the Tigray conflict while journalists and opposition figures claim he suppressing the very freedoms he  once championed.

Initially Abiy Ahmed was rule was celebrated abroad, attributing to him the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending two decades of hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea soon after he ascended to power. He was also phrased for revoked bans on opposition parties and freed thousands of political prisoners.

Ethiopia: EU condemns MSF killing

Brussels 26.06.2021 “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of three staff members of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Tigray today, outside Abiy Addi, while delivering aid to those needing it most. We offer our deepest condolences to their loved ones” reads the statement of Statement by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič, on the killing of three humanitarian workers in Tigray.

“This atrocity is another horrific example of the escalation of the conflict in Tigray and a flagrant breach of International Humanitarian Law.

“It Follows the bombing of a market in Tigray earlier this week, targeting civilians and killing dozens. Indiscriminate and deliberate attacks against civilians have been ongoing been since the conflict started.

“Next to continuous blockings of humanitarian workers while trying to deliver assistance to the people caught in the conflict, this represents yet another tragic attack against humanitarian workers in Tigray.

“The targeting of civilians and aid workers adds to existing allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity as well as the use of starvation and sexual violence as weapons of war. We reiterate the urgent call for an immediate ceasefire in Tigray and unrestricted humanitarian access to all those affected by the conflict in the region, and recall in the strongest possible terms that civilians and aid workers must not be a target”.

Ethiopia voting in key elections

Brussels 21.06.2021 Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (pictured) is facing his first real test at the ballot in what is Ethiopia’s first multi-party election in 16 years, albeit one riven with conflict, jailed opposition figures and parts of the country unable to vote.

Abiy said he expected the poll to be peaceful, tweeting ahead of the vote that it would be Ethiopia’s “first attempt at free and fair elections.” But some Ethiopians and political analysts disagreed with the Prime minister.

Abiy was appointed, not elected, but vowed to hold the most credible elections Ethiopia had ever seen to secure a mandate for his reform agenda.

The ruling coalition that preceded him claimed staggering majorities in the two previous elections, which observers said fell far short of being free and fair.

The poll was postponed from August 2020 to June 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of Abiy’s opponents declared him illegitimate when his term expired in October.

The election was postponed the second time to June 21 because of logistical setbacks, including delays in voter registration and a lack of electoral officials.

The war in Tigray, and ethnic unrest elsewhere, is expected to make voting impossible in large parts of the diverse country of 110 million.

The atmosphere was peaceful at one Addis Ababa polling station visited by CNN on Monday, June 21, morning. Several Ethiopians waiting patiently in line said they were voting because they hoped it would help move the country in a more democratic direction.

The European Union has long withdrawn its election observation mission to Ethiopia, citing the government’s uncooperative stance in fulfilling “standard requirements” relating to security and the independence of the observer group.

EU: Ethiopia elections ahead

Brussels 18.06.2021 Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union:
“On June 21, a majority of Ethiopian voters will be invited to participate in elections. Some constituencies will vote at a later stage, in part due to security and logistical challenges. The European Union (EU) takes note of this important step and recalls the fundamental democratic right of all Ethiopian citizens to be able to vote, everywhere in the country” reads the Declaration by the EU High Representative Josep Borrell on behalf of the European Union. (Image: illustration).

“Aware of the importance of these elections for the political transition in Ethiopia, the EU has supported the electoral process and the work of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE). The EU commends the efforts deployed by NEBE personnel around the country, and welcomes the public commitment of the Ethiopian government to hold democratic and peaceful elections. Yet, the EU regrets the impossibility of sending an election observation mission.

“Ethiopia remains in a complex domestic situation. Concerned with ongoing violence across the country, human rights violations and political tensions, harassment of media workers and detained opposition members, the EU calls upon the government and local and regional authorities to ensure a transparent and safe process, to guarantee the free and equal participation of all political parties and candidates who are running, to facilitate the participation of all citizens, to ensure freedom of the press and of expression as well as the safety of journalists, other media workers and election observers and to provide full logistical and administrative support to NEBE. The EU also calls on all actors to refrain from spreading hate speech and from calling for acts of violence.

“The elections could be an important step in Ethiopia’s democratic process. The EU also recalls the importance to engage in and foster a comprehensive, inclusive and transparent national dialogue with the participation of women and youth and all relevant stakeholders, including civil society organisations, political parties and regional authorities, in order to strengthen democracy and to support conflicts resolution as well as reconciliation. The EU will stand by Ethiopia in the implementation of democratic reforms as well as reconciliation efforts that would emerge from an inclusive and transparent dialogue”.

EU focus on Tigray situation

Brussels 10.06.2021 “On the eve of the G7, the European Commission and the USAID join forces to open eyes of the world on the unacceptable situation in Tigray. To the people of Tigray we say: You are not alone. To the parties involved in the conflict we say: The world is watching. You will be held accountable” Josep Borrell, the EU top diplomat wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

An analysis by United Nations agencies and aid groups estimates that about 350,000 people in Ethiopia’s conflict-torn Tigray region are in famine conditions, according to an internal U.N.

The UN report also points to grave abuses of human rights committed by Ethiopian and Eritrean troops in Tigray, including the looting of Saint Mary’s Hospital and Aksum University Referral Hospital.

The report says the Eritrean military has committed “deliberate attacks against civilians and summary executions, indiscriminate attacks, sexual and gender-based violence, arbitrary detention, destruction and looting of civilian property and displacement and abduction of Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers”.

The report makes recommendations to the Eritrean government that includes providing information on the presence of its troops in Tigray and answering the allegations of human rights abuses.

It asks Asmara “to ensure that protective measures are taken in areas under its effective territorial control to ensure respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law by Eritrean troops present in Tigray”.

The fighting in Tigray began eight months ago when Ethiopian and Eritrean troops alongside allied militias began an offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

The conflict has displaced about two million civilians and left 5.2 million in urgent need, the US said.

Human rights organisations including Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International have documented incidents of sexual violence, extrajudicial killings and massacres in Tigray.

David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Programme, said on Tuesday that “time is running out” and called on all parties to allow free humanitarian access to the region to avert a catastrophe.

EU: Haavisto second mission to Ethiopia

Pekka Haavisto, Foreign Minister of Finland, mandated by the EU High Representative Josep Borrell, is undertaking a second mission to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Foreign Minister will discuss the situation in Ethiopia, notably the crisis in Tigray and its regional implications. Haavisto second mission to Ethiopia

During his visit, Haavisto will meet with Ethiopian authorities, and convey The EU’s continued concern regarding the humanitarian situation in Tigray, calling all parties to end hostilities and for the respect of International Humanitarian Law and International Refugee Law, as well as to allow independent investigations on alleged human rights abuse. He will also recall that Eritrean forces shall withdraw from Tigray. Finally, he will consult with the African Union to exchange views on the situation in Ethiopia as well as on regional issues.

On his way to Ethiopia, Haavisto is travelling to Saudi Arabia and to the United Arab Emirates for discussions on regional issues as well as the situation in Tigray.

He will report about his visit to European Ministers of Foreign Affairs during the next Foreign Affairs Council in April.

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.

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”.

Ethiopia: rockets hit Amhara region

Brussels, 20.11.2020 Ethiopia’s Tigray region militia fired rockets on November 20 at the distant capital of the neighbouring Amhara region, Amhara authorities said, raising worries the conflict could degenerate into civil war.

The illegal TPLF group have launched a rocket attack around 1:40 a.m. in Bahir Dar,” the Amhara government’s communications office said, referring to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The rockets caused no damage, it said.

Bahir Dar, Amhara region’s lakeside capital, is located hundreds of miles from the fighting in Tigray. Tigrayan refugees have told Reuters the Amhara militia is fighting on the government side, and the two regions have a border dispute. (Image: Tigray Christians congregation).

A local journalist and another resident in Bahir Dar said they heard two explosions and had been told by people in the area that at least one missile hit near the airport.

“On Ethiopia, the situation in the Tigray region, the ethnic-targeted violence, the allegations of atrocities and the human rights abuses are of deep concern. There is a real danger of an imminent and major humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia and in the close region. We are very much concerned about these prospects and we have reiterated our calls for dialogue and to stop violence and return to dialogue” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, commenting on results of the Foreign Affairs Council, on November 19.

“I briefed Ministers about my calls with Ethiopian and regional partners, to whom I expressed my concerns and the European Union’s readiness to support a peaceful solution and an inclusive dialogue. There has been an intensive diplomatic outreach at different levels to stakeholders that could influence the two parties. The Commission has informed the Council about the mobilisation of financial resources to try to help the Ethiopian refugees that have fled the region, the conflict, to the neighbouring countries – mainly Sudan”  the EU diplomat explained.

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