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Situation Report EEPA HORN No. 50 – 09 January 2021

Europe External Programme with Africa is a Belgium-based Centre of Expertise with in-depth knowledge, publications, and networks, specialised in issues of peace building, refugee protection and resilience in the Horn of Africa. EEPA has published extensively on issues related to movement and/or human trafficking of refugees in the Horn of Africa and on the Central Mediterranean Route. It cooperates with a wide network of Universities, research organisations, civil society and experts from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and across Africa. Key in-depth publications can be accessed on the website.

Military situation (as confirmed per 08 January)

  • The ENDF has announced that next to the nine officials that it captured, they have also killed four other Tigrayan officials. The officials killed are the TPLF spokesman, the former head of the Tigray finance bureau, and two other core members. The ENDF did not detail how the four men were killed.
  • The ENDF reinforcements that were seen moving towards Mekelle at the beginning of the week have reached Alamata. The force consists of 8 tanks, 20 buses, and 5 heavy trucks.
  • Heavy gunfire has been reported in Mekelle and its outskirts. Heavy artillery bombing was reported in Wukro, North of Mekelle.
  • Report that Maryam Tsiyon Church has been attacked (local people believe with the aim to take the Ark of Covenant to Addis Ababa). Hundreds of people hiding in the Maryam Tsiyon Church were brought out and shot on the square in front. The number of people killed is reported as 750.
  • Satellite images have detected a fire in Baeker, Humera. Fighting has been reported in that area.
  • Reported in social media that the Sudanese army would have evidence of participation of Eritrean troops in the war between Ethiopia and Sudan over the disputed border area, Al-Fashqa.
  • Reported that Eritrean troops are currently in all administrative zones in Tigray, except the Southern zone. This includes: Tekeze area, Adigoshu, Maywoini (Geyts), Fresalem (Edris), Adebay, Ousman, Jebel, Humera, Rawyan, Bereket (Western); Shire, Endebagina, Selekleka, Adihageray, Adinebried, Sheraro, Semema (North Western); Wukro Maray, Aksum, Adwa, Rama, Egela, Zana (Central); Adigrat, Edaga Hamus, Wukro, Hawzen (Eastern).
  • Extreme looting reported in the Gheralta area, and Hawzen has been seriously damaged (‘destroyed’).
  • Another list of names of civilian victims in the districts of Gheralta and Enderta (Tigray) has emerged. Reportedly, the victims were killed by Eritrean troops. All the names on the list are of men.
  • Reported that Eritrean soldiers use Ethiopian military uniforms as disguise but local people recognise them easily as they speak Tigrigna with an Eritrean accent. Mostly, especially in Western Tigray, the Eritrean troops are wearing the uniforms of the Eritrean army, according to reports.
  • A second humanitarian worker from Dutch humanitarian NGO ZOA has also been killed in the Hitsats refugee camp, where heavy fighting is reported.
  • According to the UN OCHA fighting in Tigray continues, among other locations, in the Mekelle Periphery, Shire, and Shiraro. The fighting has stopped the deployment of some of its missions.
  • Unconfirmed: Sebhat Nega, 86, the co-founder of the TPLF, was arrested in a remote valley, together with defected officers from the Northern Command. Sebhat Nega, also referred to as ‘Aboy Sebhat’ (‘father Sebhat’) is a retired political intellectual, former director of the Tigray Endowment Fund and director of a think tank, the Foreign Relations Strategic Study Institute in Addis Ababa until 2018.

Reported Regional situation (as confirmed per 08 January)

  • The Vice-Chairman of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council, General M.H. Dugalo (‘Hemiti’ or ‘Hamediti’) met with Eritrean President Isaias in Asmara on Friday. The visit followed accusations that Eritrea is involved in the war on the Ethiopia-Sudan border. The visit was reported as a failure.  President Ramaphosa of South Africa has said that the AU appointed Special Envoys on Tigray will visit the Tigray area soon.
  • President Kiir of South Sudan has called on the Sudanese government to reach a settled negotiation with Ethiopia. He made the comments following a meeting with al-Din Kabbashi, a member of the Sovereign Council, and Omer Gamar Eldin, the acting Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Reported International dimension (as confirmed per 08 January)

  • The Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect is urging states with significant military ties to Ethiopia, to withhold military assistance until all war crimes and human rights violations have been investigated, and their perpetrators held accountable.
  • A demonstration has taken place in The Hague, the Netherlands, organised by Tigray and Eritrean members of the diaspora, demanding that Eritrean troops leave Tigray immediately.

Situation in Tigray (as confirmed per 08 January)

  • UN OCHA states in a report that the situation in Tigray remains volatile. While, it believes that the situation has been improving, access to food, water, and medical supplies remains limited. The report has identified that looting of humanitarian supplies and equipment continues in some areas, including Kuiha and Lachi.
  • The UN OCHA report identifies that 4.5 million people needing emergency assistance, of which 2.2 million IDPs. However only 77 thousand people in Mekelle and 25 thousand in Mai Ayni and Adi Harush refugee camps have received food support from the UN and its partners.
  • UN OCHA reports that it still does not have access to Hitsats and Shimelba refugee camps. Bureaucratic constraints and lack of security has made it more difficult to access many areas of Tigray.
  • Sources disagree with UN OCHA’s assessment that things are going back to normal in Mekelle, Alamata, and Mehoni. Fighting has still been taking place in the area, and people are being prevented from leaving. Moreover, a critical lack of many supplies still exists in the area.
  • Demtsi Woyane, DW, a TPLF aligned broadcast, has released further footage of a heavily looted buildings of Mekelle University. Multiple departments have been completely emptied.
  • Since mid-November the accounts of EFFORT, the umbrella to which many companies in Tigray belong, have been frozen and reports show that its huge assets are now being ‘redistributed’ in Ethiopia.

Refugee Situation (as confirmed per 08 January)

  • Ethiopian refugees in Sudan have told The World on their experiences in the conflict. A witness recounts how on his flight to Sudan he Ethiopian Federal Troops were accompanied by Eritrean soldiers. They proceeded to shoot his son twice and left him to die.


All information in this situation report is presented as a fluid update report, as to the best knowledge and understanding of the authors at the moment of publication. EEPA does not claim that the information is correct but verifies to the best of ability within the circumstances. Publication is weighed on the basis of interest to understand potential impacts of events (or perceptions of these) on the situation. Check all information against updates and other media. EEPA does not take responsibility for the use of the information or impact thereof. All information reported originates from third parties and the content of all reported and linked information remains the sole responsibility of these third parties. Report to info@eepa.be any additional information and corrections.

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