As the violent conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region entered its second week, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Thursday announced that the national military has defeated the local forces in the region. He claimed that the army had already begun “providing humanitarian assistance and services” to help those affected by the clashes, Reuters reported.
“The western region of Tigray has been liberated,” Ahmed tweeted earlier today. “The army is now providing humanitarian assistance and services. It is also feeding the people.”
The Ethiopian Prime Minister launched a military campaign against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) last week, after accusing the regional rulers of attacking a government military base in the region.
With thousands now crossing the border to escape the violent clashes, aid agencies have warned that they are unable to restock food, medical and other emergency supplies, Al Jazeera reported. Government sources have told the Associated Press and Reuters that hundreds have been killed on both sides.
The domestic conflict in Ethiopia comes after several smaller conflicts that have been festering for months. Observers say that the conflict first escalated in September, when Tigray — a region known to be wealthier than other parts of the country — held local elections in insubordination of the Ethiopian federal government.
But the conflict dates back even further to when Abiy Ahmed first came to power in 2018 and the authority of Tigray officials reduced considerably. A Reuters report points to how Abiy had detained, fired and reduced the importance of several Tigray officials since coming to power, in what he had said was a crackdown on corruption.
Here are the top updates on the conflict in Ethiopia
Ethiopia PM claims bodies of dead soldiers found tied up in Tigray
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Thursday announced that the bodies of federal military personnel were found tied up in the Tigray region. According to a Reuters report, Ahmed claimed that the bodies bore bullet wounds.
He did not confirm just how many bodies were recovered, and the ruling party in Tigray is yet to comment on the issue.
Ethiopia PM Abiy Ahmed rejects peace talks
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, has turned down requests for peace talks and negotiations as the crisis in Tigray worsens, BBC reported. The leader of Tigray, Debretsion Gebremichael, wrote to the African Union (AU) a week ago to request talks.
But Ahmed wrote in a recent tweet that no talks will take place between the two warring forces “until our efforts to ascertain the rule of law are achieved.”
“Our law enforcement operations in Tigray are proceeding as planned: operations will cease as soon as the criminal junta is disarmed, legitimate administration in the region restored, and fugitives apprehended & brought to justice — all of them rapidly coming within reach,” he wrote.
African Union calls for immediate ceasefire
The African Union (AU) on Tuesday called for a complete and immediate ceasefire between the two warring forces in Ethiopia.
“The chairperson [Moussa Faki Mahamat] appeals for the immediate cessation of hostilities and calls on parties to respect human rights and ensure the protection of civilians,” a statement from the bloc read, according to Al Jazeera.
‘Shortages of basic amenities impacting most vulnerable,’ says UN
As the conflict in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region intensifies, the United Nations has raised concerns about a possible refugee emergency if more civilians are forced to flee the fighting between federal authorities and local forces. More than 10,000 Ethiopian refugees have already poured into the neighbouring nation of Sudan since the in-fighting first broke out, Reuters reported.
UN authorities have warned that a shortage of basic amenities in Ethiopia during the ongoing crisis is adversely impacting the country’s vulnerable the most, Reuters reported. Since telephone lines in the region are still down, aid agencies are struggling to carry out their operations, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) said in a recent report.
“Transport is not allowed to and from Tigray, as a result of which shortages of basic commodities are reportedly appearing, impacting the most vulnerable first and the most,” UN OCHA said.
The agency added that the were concerned about the protection of children, women, the elderly and the disabled as the military clashes continue to intensify.
Tigray leader accuses Eritrea of sending troops over border, Eritrea denies allegation
The government of Eritrea denied the leader of Tigray’s allegation that the country was sending in troops to help the federal government’s military crackdown on the northern state, Reuters reported.
“This is an internal conflict. We are not part of the conflict,” Eritrea’s Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed told Reuters.
Earlier, Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael claimed that the army of Eritrean leader Isaias Afwerki had crossed the border and “invaded” the region. “They were attacking via Humera using heavy arms.”
Ethiopian military seizes airport near Humera town in Tigray region
The Ethiopian military on Wednesday captured an airport located around 67 km away from the town of Humera in the northern Tigray region, Al Jazeera reported.
“The Ethiopian National Defense Force has fully captured Humera Airport amid [a] continuation of [the] government’s military response against TPLF rebel group,” local Fana TV reported.
Ethiopia says 550 Tigray fighters have been killed by troops
Ethiopia’s state broadcaster has said that the country’s military killed 550 Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) fighters since the conflict broke out nearly two weeks ago, BBC reported. Since internet and telephone services are still suspended in the country, the claims are yet to be verified.
Several reports have indicated hundreds of deaths on both sides.