Tag Archives: Tigray

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.

DJIBOUTI: Borrell on EU-IGAD partnership

Brussels 20.12.2020 “The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) leaders are meeting in Djibouti today at a time when the region has pulled together impressively to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and a desert locust invasion. And at a time, when the stability of the region is threatened by conflicts, ancient border disputes and a diplomatic stand-off” reads the statement of the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell on the IGAD Summit in Djibouti.

The European Union joins the millions across the region affected by the current crises, in placing their faith in today’s summit. We support all efforts to encourage dialogue and to silence guns.

As IGAD’s most significant international partner, we also hope that the outcome of today’s meeting will bring the region a step closer to finding a sustainable solution to the ongoing crises, in line with respect for international commitments and, in particular, international humanitarian law.

Regional organisations depend on their members’ mutual legal commitments. The solidarity that binds the IGAD Member States together is crucial for future decisive action”.

The 38th IGAD extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Governments has opened in Djibouti today, chaired by Sudanese Prime Minister Dr.Abdullah Hamdok, and attended by the African Union Commission Chairperson Mousa Faki.

The recent rift between Kenya and Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan, the old conflict between Eritrea and Djibouti, in addition to the Tigray region crisis, will be on table of the the summit of the The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) of East African Countries.

The Summit is taking place few days after the military operations of the federal troops in Tigray region of Ethiopia have been concluded, however the the unfolding humanitarian crisis is still going on, raising concerns of the international community facing urgent needs of tens of thousands of displaced, and refugees.

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.

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.

EU calls Ethiopia to respect Humanitarian law

Brussels 04.12.2020 The EU diplomacy continues to follow closely the events in Ethiopia, insisting that “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 spokesperson continued.

The Tigray region has come under military control of the federal government, after four weeks of combat operation, causing tens of thousands of civilians to flee to neighbouring Sudan. The humanitarian situation in the region has deteriorated, also affecting Sudan, hosting around 50 000 refugees. There are also different estimates of the U.N. experts, foreseeing around 300 000 Tigray refugees to arrive soon to Sudan in the context of the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation. Some other reports blamed Ethiopian federal troops the ongoing combat operation, contradicting the official statement of the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, announcing the end of the military operation in Tigray region. Different sources in Sudan, including the Sudanese military said, that the Ethiopian federal troops are preventing the fleeing population to cross the border in search for asylum in Sudan.

There is an ongoing call of the EU to 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”.

According to the firm position of the EU diplomacy, the engagement with the High-level Envoys appointed by the Chair of the African Union Moussa Faki should open the door for a dialogue between the central government in Addis-Ababa and the leaders of Tigray region that is the only way forward to avoid further destabilisation in the Horn of Africa.

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.

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.

Ethiopia: troops advance towards Mekelle

The Ethiopian government said on November 24 that Tigrayan soldiers were surrendering in the face of its advance towards the regional capital Mekelle (pictured), but the local forces reported they were resisting and had destroyed a significant army division.

Hundreds of civilians have died,, and there has been widespread destruction and uprooting of people from homes in the northern Tigray region, and more than 40,000 refugees have fled to Sudan.

However the information about events on the ground is impossible to verify, because there press is denied access to the Tigray region, which is deprived of electricity after power station bombing, and internet shutdown ordered by the federal government, as a part of their offensive against Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has underlined that many Tigrayan combatants had responded to an ultimatum to lay down arms before a threatened offensive against Mekelle city, with half a million inhabitants. The deadline expires on November 25.

“Using the government’s 72-hour period, a large number of Tigray militia and special forces are surrendering,” the federal government taskforce said.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which dominates in the region of more than 5 million people, gave a different insights of events, saying their troops were keeping federal forces at bay and scoring some successful military counter-attacks.

Their spokesman Getachew Reda said an important army unit – which he termed the 21st mechanised division – was destroyed in an assault at Raya-Wajirat led by a former commander of that unit now fighting for the TPLF.

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