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IPIS Briefing January 2021 – Ethiopia-Tigray Conflict

Ethiopia-Tigray Conflict

Ethiopia re-enters the abyss of war | 29 January 2021 | Ethiopia Insight

The Ethiopian federal government’s “law enforcement operation” in Tigray aimed to capture the rebellious rulers in the northern regional state. Thus far, however, the core leadership is at large, and the campaign has further exposed the country’s political fragility, pushing it into the abyss of a likely long-term war.

The Three-Country Alliance Against Tigray Might Jeopardize Ethiopia’s Future | 26 January 2021 | Eurasia Review

The Tigray war has turned into an all-out conflict, pitting Tigrayan forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation front (TPLF) against Ethiopian federal troops, the Eritrean army, Amhara militia and – as revealed last week – Somali soldiers.

Witnesses: Eritrean soldiers loot, kill in Ethiopia’s Tigray | 25 January 2021 | AP

The Eritrean soldiers’ pockets clinked with stolen jewelry. Warily, Zenebu watched them try on dresses and other clothing looted from homes in a town in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region.

Ethiopia’s leader must answer for the high cost of hidden war in Tigray | 24 January 2021 | The Guardian

Seyoum Mesfin, Ethiopia’s long-serving former foreign minister, was one of the foremost African diplomats of his generation. He was gunned down this month in Tigray by the armed forces of a lesser man – Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s prime minister and Nobel peace prize winner. Some suggest it was the Eritrean military, Abiy’s allies, who killed Seyoum, although their presence in Tigray is officially denied. The circumstances of his death remain murky.

‘Choose – I kill you or rape you’: abuse accusations surge in Ethiopia’s war | 23 January 2021 | Reuters

The young coffee seller said she was split from family and friends by an Ethiopian soldier at the Tekeze river, taken down a path, and given a harrowing choice. “He said: ‘Choose, either I kill you or rape you’,” the 25-year-old told Reuters at the Hamdayet refugee camp in Sudan where she had fled from conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

The ‘peace’ that delivered total war against Tigray | 23 January 2021 | Ethiopia Insight

The Abiy-Isaias-Amhara pact was structured to result in either the complete conquest of Tigray or mutual destruction.

On ‘Rooftop of Africa,’ Ethiopia’s Troops Hunt Fugitive Former Rulers | 22 January 2021 | NYT

Politicians and military commanders who once led Ethiopia are being tracked down, caught and sometimes killed by their own country’s soldiers in the war in the Tigray region.

Ethiopie : préoccupée par les allégations de violence sexuelle au Tigré, l’ONU appelle à une politique de tolérance zéro | 21 January 2021 | UN News

La Représentante spéciale du Secrétaire général sur la violence sexuelle dans les conflits, Pramila Patten, a exprimé jeudi sa grande inquiétude concernant les graves allégations de violence sexuelle dans la région du Tigré en Éthiopie, en particulier le nombre élevé de viols présumés dans la capitale régionale, Mekelle.

Ethiopia denies Somali soldiers fighting in Tigray conflict | 21 January 2021 | BusinessDay

Somalia says reports of its fighters going missing were fabricated for political reasons as it is holding presidential elections in February.

Non, la guerre du Tigré en Éthiopie n’est pas terminée | 19 January 2021 | France culture

Il y a deux mois le Premier ministre d’Éthiopie Abiy Ahmed annonçait la fin des combats contre les rebelles du Tigré. Mais tout indique que les exactions s’y poursuivent et s’étendent même à d’autres régions d’Ethiopie.

The Axum Civilian Massacre of November 2020: Innocent blood on Concerned Leaders and Commanders’ Hands | 18 January 2021 | AigaForum

Eyewitness accounts are emerging with respect to the various reports of the Axum city November 2020 massacre of around 750 innocent people. There was/is no clarity about the killing due to the total communication blockage in the region. Diaspora Tigrayans who were in Axum for celebrating Axum Tsion (St Marry’s) annual religious event (locally and nationally called Hidar-Tsion) and others who were in Axum at the relevant time, as well as some media have begun sharing their harrowing experiences of and information on the massacre.

Ethiopia Tigray crisis: EU concern over war crime reports | 16 January 2021 | BBC

The European Union says it is getting consistent reports of ethnic-targeted killings and possible war crimes in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray.

Trying treason: The case of MG Gebremedhin Fikadu et al. | 16 January 2021 | Ethiopia Insight

Seventeen Tigrayan military officers have been accused of treason. The jury is out as to whether their case will be tried in a military or civil court.

EU suspends Ethiopian budget support over Tigray crisis | 15 January 2021 | Reuters

The European Union has suspended budget support for Ethiopia worth 88 million euros ($107 million) until humanitarian agencies are granted access to people in need of aid in the northern Tigray region.

Ethiopia – Tigray Region Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 15 January 2021 | 15 January 2021 | OCHA | ReliefWeb

The security situation in Tigray Region remains dire with reports of sporadic fighting and population movement in search of safety, particularly in rural areas.

Major violations of international law at Tigray refugee camps: U.N. | 14 January 2021 | Reuters

There have been major violations of international law at two refugee camps in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, the U.N.’s refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Thursday.

Ethiopia: Humanitarian crisis worsens in Tigray | 14 January 2021 | DW

The conflict between Ethiopia’s government and the TPLF is fueling hardship in the Tigray region as sporadic fighting continues.

Ethiopia says ex-foreign minister killed by military after refusing to surrender | 14 January 2021 | Reuters

Ethiopia said on Wednesday its military had killed three members of the Tigray region’s former ruling party, including former Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin.

Sudan says Ethiopian military aircraft crossed border | 13 January 2021 | Reuters

An Ethiopian military aircraft crossed the Sudanese-Ethiopian border‮ ‬in a ‮”‬dangerous and unjustified escalation”, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

As a Tigrayan, my bond with Ethiopia feels beyond repair | 12 January 2021 | African Arguments

As a child growing up in the then Ethiopian city of Asmara in the 1980s, my parents used to ask me what I wanted to be when I was older. My answer was always that I either wanted to be a fighter pilot or army general. The reason was simple. My father was a soldier in the Ethiopian army under the Derg regime and I too wanted to kill the nation’s “enemies”.

Ethiopian women raped in Mekelle, says soldier | 10 January 2021 | Reuters

Soldiers and police in the northern Ethiopian city of Mekelle have expressed concerns about insecurity, with one saying women were raped this week, after the city fell to federal forces during a war late last year.

Les réfugiés érythréens au Tigré, cible de l’armée du régime autoritaire | 9 January 2021 | RFI

L’inquiétude grandit autour du sort des réfugiés politiques érythréens qui se trouvent au Tigré. Au début du conflit en novembre, ils étaient près de 100 000 à vivre en Éthiopie après avoir fui Asmara et son régime autoritaire. Depuis deux mois, de nombreux récits font part d’exactions commises dans les quatre camps de réfugiés au Tigré par les soldats érythréens, dont on a maintenant la preuve de leur présence.

Almost 2.3 million people need aid in Ethiopia’s Tigray – U.N. Report | 8 January 2021 | Reuters

Fighting is still going on in several parts of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region and almost 2.3 million people, or nearly half of the population, need aid, a U.N. report said.

The Ethiopian Conflict and the Abrogation of the AU Mandate by the Commission Chairperson | 7 January 2021 | African Arguments

The Ethiopian civil war broke out following the November 4 attack by Tigray regional forces on the base of federal troops in Mekelle, capital of the northern Ethiopian regional state. Although the relationship between Addis Ababa and Mekelle has been strained since the transition that saw Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed come to power in 2018, few expected the build-up of tensions to erupt at the time and in the form that it did.

Ethiopie: défis et difficultés de la nouvelle administration provisoire du Tigré | 6 January 2021 | RFI

Couac au sein du gouvernement éthiopien au Tigré. Le maire de la capitale provinciale Mekele a confirmé que les troupes érythréennes étaient bel et bien engagées au Tigré pour se battre aux cotés de l’armée éthiopienne. Sauf que le maire de Mekele n’était pas censé révéler cette information démentie depuis des semaines par Asmara et Addis Abeba. Un accroc qui montre les problèmes que rencontrent le nouvelle administration provisoire, nommée par le Premier ministre il y a deux mois et qui peine encore à s’affirmer.

Ethiopia Accuses Sudan of Killing Civilians in Border Row | 6 January 2021 | Bloomberg

Ethiopia accused Sudanese troops of killing “many civilians” in recent fighting over contested land at the nations’ border.

Amhara region police chief reveals how region’s police force guided federal steel-clad mechanized forces to join “war” in Tigray | 6 January 2021 | Addis Standard

A speech delivered by Commissioner Abere Adamu, Chief Commissioner of the Amhara Regional State Police Commission, added a new dynamic into a cascade events leading up to the armed conflict in Tigray regional state, which broke out two months ago on November 04/2020.

Reuters cameraman detained in Ethiopia has seen no evidence against him, lawyer says | 30 December 2021 | Reuters

Ethiopian police release detained Reuters cameraman without charge | 5 January 2021 | Reuters

Reuters cameraman Kumerra Gemechu has been held in solitary confinement for nearly a week without charge or being given any evidence of wrongdoing, his lawyer said.

Business and Human Rights

Ethnic conflict could unravel Ethiopia’s valuable garment industry | 20 January 2021 | The Conversation

Ethiopia has long been considered one of Africa’s economic wunderkinds. Until recently, it had relative political stability in comparison to other countries on the continent. And, with an average GDP growth rate of 10% in the past decade and a government that instituted policies friendly to foreign investors, the country was able to attract South and East Asian clothing manufacturers. These sell to international brands, such as Decathlon and H&M.

Arms Trade

Silencing of guns in Africa remains a pipe dream | 21 January 2021 | Media Review Network | IOL

The African Union set itself a goal of silencing guns on the continent by 2020 but has failed to achieve that goal dismally. Guns are still blazing in the DRC, CAR, Libya, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Nigeria.


Over 80 killed in attack in Ethiopian border region with Sudan – state rights commission | 13 January 2021 | Reuters

Dozens Die in Ethnic Massacre in Troubled Ethiopian Region | 13 January 2021 | NYT

More than 80 civilians were killed in an attack on Tuesday in the Benishangul-Gumuz region on Ethiopia’s border with Sudan, the state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said on Wednesday.

Atrocity Alert No. 235: Central African Republic, Ethiopia and Cameroon | 13 January 2021 | GCR2P | ReliefWeb

Atrocity Alert is a weekly publication by the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect highlighting situations where populations are at risk of, or are enduring, mass atrocity crimes.

All Is Not Quiet on Ethiopia’s Western Front | 6 January 2021 | Foreign Policy

How Addis Ababa deals with ethnic violence in the region of Benishangul-Gumuz will determine the country’s future.

Ethiopian forces killed scores in June-July unrest, report says | 1 January 2021 | DW

Ethnic violence erupted in Ethiopia after the killing of singer Hachalu Hundessa. A local human rights watchdog says Ethiopian security officers used “highly questionable” force.

Source: IPIS Briefing January 2021

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