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Tigray War

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Tigray War
Part of Ethiopian civil conflict (2018–present)
VOA Hawzen5.jpg
Ethiopian Civil War (2020-present).svg
Top: An armoured vehicle destroyed by fighting in Hawzen
Bottom: Territorial control as of November 2021[a]
(For a more detailed, up-to-date, interactive map, see here).
Pro-federal government troops
  Ethiopian federal government and regional allies

Anti-federal government rebels

  Gumuz Liberation Front and other Gumuz millitas
Date3 November 2020 – present
(1 year, 3 weeks and 4 days)
Location
Status

Ongoing

Belligerents

 Ethiopia

 Eritrea[7][8]

Endorsed by:

UFEFCF (Nov. 2021–)[11][12]

Commanders and leaders
Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed
Ethiopia Sahle-Work Zewde
Ethiopia Birhanu Jula
Ethiopia Kenea Yadeta
(2020–21)
Ethiopia Abraham Belay (2021–)
Tiruneh Temesgen (2020)
Agegnehu Teshager (2020–21)
Yilikal Kefale (2021–)
Awol Arba
Eritrea Isaias Afewerki
Eritrea Filipos Woldeyohannes
Debretsion Gebremichael
Fetlework Gebregziabher
Gen. Tsadkan Gebretensae[22][23]
Gen. Tadesse Werede Tesfay
Jaal Marroo
a.k.a Kumsa Diriba[13]
Units involved
ENDF EPF
Amhara Special Forces
Amhara Police Force
Afar Special Forces
Afar Police Force
EDF[8]
Strength
140,000[25]
43,000[26][27]
10,000
100,000–250,000 (est., Nov 2020)[28][29][30]
Casualties and losses
3,073 killed, 4,473 injured, 8,000 captured (rebel claim)[31][32]
2 Mig-23 lost[33][34]
2 Mi-35 lost[35][36][37]
1 C-130 lost[38]
Unknown
5,600 killed, 2,300 injured, 2,000 captured (Ethiopian military claim)[39]
Famine in the Tigray War
Casualties of the Tigray War

The Tigray War (Tigrinya: ውግእ ትግራይ), also known as the Ethiopian Civil War[40][41], is an ongoing civil war that began on 3 November 2020 in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia.[42][43][44] The local Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) are fighting the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), the Ethiopian Federal Police, regional police, and gendarmerie forces of the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions with the involvement of the Eritrean Defence Forces (EDF).[26][45][46] All sides, particularly the ENDF, EDF, and TDF have committed war crimes during the conflict.[47][48][49][50] Due to the onset of the war, a deep humanitarian crisis has developed.[51]

In 2019, to distance the country from ethnic federalism and ethnic nationalist politics, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed merged the ethnic and region-based constituent parties of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition and several opposition parties into his new Prosperity Party. The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), a politically powerful entity that had dominated Ethiopian politics for 27 years as a repressive regime through a one-party dominant system,[52] refused to join the new party. The TPLF then alleged that Abiy Ahmed became an illegitimate ruler because the general elections scheduled for 29 August 2020 were postponed to 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The TPLF, led by its chairman Debretsion Gebremichael, went ahead with regional elections in Tigray in September 2020 in defiance of the federal government, which then declared the Tigray election illegal.[53]

After a long build-up of Eritrean and Amhara forces on Tigray's borders, fighting between Tigray forces and the Ethiopia-Eritrea-Amhara alliance began on 3 November 2020, with attacks on the Northern Command bases and headquarters of the ENDF in the Tigray Region by Tigray security forces. Counterattacks by the ENDF in Tigray were described as a police action by federal authorities.[54][44][55] Federal allied forces captured Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray Region, on 28 November, after which Prime Minister Abiy declared the Tigray operation "over".[56][57] The Tigray government stated in late November that it would continue fighting until the "invaders" are out,[26][58][59] and on 28 June 2021 the Tigray Defense Forces retook Mekelle and advanced into the Amhara and Afar regions in July.[60] In early November 2021, the TDF together with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) took control of several towns on the highway south from Tigray Region towards Addis Ababa, and the TPLF stated that its was "considering marching on Addis Ababa.[61][62] Together with seven smaller rebel groups, the TPLF and OLA declared a coalition aiming to "dismantle Abiy's government by force or by negotiations, and then form a transitional authority."[63]

Mass extrajudicial killings of civilians took place during November and December 2020 in and around Adigrat,[64] Hagere Selam,[64] in the Hitsats refugee camp,[65] and in Humera,[66] Mai Kadra[49][67] Debre Abbay,[68][69] and Axum.[70] At least 10,000 people have died, and war rape became a "daily" occurrence, with girls as young as 8, and women as old as 72, raped, often in front of their families.[71][72]

Peace and mediation proposals included an early November 2020 African Union (AU) mediation proposed by Debretsion and refused by Abiy;[73][74] an AU trio of former African presidents who visited Ethiopia in late November;[75][76] an emergency Intergovernmental Authority on Development summit of East African heads of government and state that met in late 20 December 2020 in Djibouti;[77] and peace proposals on 19 February 2021 by the Tigray government[78] and on 20 February by the National Congress of Great Tigray (Baytona), Tigray Independence Party (TIP) and Salsay Weyane Tigray (SAWET).[79] In July and August 2021, the "A3+1" mediation group, consisting of three African countries, Kenya, Niger and Tunisia and one non-African country, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, was formed and called for an "Ethiopian-owned process" supported by peace resolution processes, especially those of the AU, in the spirit of "African solutions to African challenges".[80][81] Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria, talked to Abiy and Debretsion separately and stated on 8 November to the AU Peace and Security Council that both leaders agreed that "the differences opposing them are political and require political solution through dialogue."[82]

Background

A mass grave of civilian victims in Tigray[83]

Historical and political context

Following the end of the Ethiopian Civil War in 1991, Ethiopia became a dominant-party state under the rule of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of ethnically-based parties dominated by the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).[52] The founding and most influential member was the TPLF and the chairperson was Meles Zenawi, who was the prime minister of Ethiopia until his death in 2012.[84][85]

On 2 April 2018, the once-powerful TPLF was ousted from power in the federal government owing to a growing discontent within the public, a reaction to 27 years of repression. In a closed-door election to chair the EPRDF, executive committee members from the Amhara, Oromia and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' regions voted for Abiy Ahmed in defiance of the TPLF, which was hoping to get Shiferaw Shigute elected chairman. After losing the election and being ousted from the federal government, TPLF officials relocated to Tigray and continued administering the region for three years frequently clashing with the federal government.[52][86] In one instance, the regional administration of Tigray is reported to have defied the federal government and refused to allow Ethiopian Federal Police to arrest Getachew Assefa, the former chief of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) of Ethiopia and executive member of TPLF.[87]

On 1 December 2019, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed merged the ethnic and region-based parties of the EPRDF (which had governed Ethiopia for 28 years) and several opposition parties into his new Prosperity Party. The TPLF, which had dominated Ethiopian politics, refused to join the new party and alleged that Abiy Ahmed became an illegitimate ruler by rescheduling the general elections set for 29 August 2020 to an undetermined date in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[88]

The TPLF used to be part of the Ethiopian governing coalition until its 2019 refusal to merge into the Prosperity Party.[89] In 2020, tensions between the federal government and Tigray escalated in the months before the November Tigray military intervention.[89] Not only the TPLF, but even the Tigray branch of Abiy's own Prosperity Party expressed fears for an Eritrean invasion.[90] Abiy, who is of Oromo descent, accused the TPLF Party Members in the Tigray Regional Government of undermining his authority.[89]

By contrast, Tigray authorities saw the refusal to recognize the September 2020 election for Tigray's state council (which, along with all elections in Ethiopia, had been delayed by the federal elections board because of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ethiopia) as the reason for the outbreak of the conflict.[89] Abiy Ahmed's government considered the Tigray election to be illegal and responded by slashing federal funding to the region.[91][92] Several journalists were barred by the federal government (at Addis Ababa airport) from travelling to cover Tigray's regional election.[93][94]

The warming of relations between Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, who is poorly regarded in Tigray, was also considered to have fuelled the tension.[89] Ethiopian elite units were transported to Gherghera base near Asmara "as part of a security pact" between Abiy and Isaias in a plan to "strike out of existence the TPLF", according to former Eritrean Minister of Defence, Mesfin Hagos.[95] In late October, the Ethiopian Reconciliation Commission stated that it was trying to mediate between the federal and regional governments and the TPLF, but that pre-conditions set by all sides were blocking progress.[96]

Opponents of the Tigray People's Liberation Front have described it as a heavily armed ethnic nationalist[97][98][99][100] paramilitary insurgency,[101] terrorist organization,[102] political party,[103] and former ruling authoritarian regime[104] of Ethiopia.

As tension continued to grow, a general appointed by Abiy was prevented by the Tigrayan government from taking up his military post.[105] The same day before the Tigray forces Northern Command attacks, the federal parliament of Ethiopia had suggested designating the TPLF as a terrorist organization.[89]

Constitutional context

The 1995 Constitution of Ethiopia states in Article 39.1, "Every Nation, Nationality, and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession."[106]

Article 62.9 grants the House of Federation the right to "order Federal intervention if any State [government], in violation of [the] Constitution, endangers the constitutional order."[106]

In late September 2020, the TPLF stated that the constitutional term limit of the House of Federation, the House of Peoples' Representatives (HoPR), the prime minister, and the Council of Ministers was 5 October 2020 and that for this reason, it would consider "the incumbent" constitutionally illegitimate after 5 October. The TPLF proposed replacing the government with a technocratic caretaker government as detailed in a plan posted on Facebook by the Coalition of Ethiopian Federalist Forces.[107]

Course of the conflict

Reported conflict incidents in the first seven months of the Tigray War, including battles, ambushes, airstrikes, drone attacks, and shelling

Early fighting

Just before midnight on 3 November 2020, Tigray Special Forces and the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) came into conflict during the TPLF attacks on the ENDF Northern Command headquarters in Mekelle, the Fifth Battalion barracks in Dansha, and other Northern Command bases.[108][44][109] Several people were killed and the TPLF claimed the attack was carried out in self-defence.[110][87]

In retaliation,[111] an Ethiopian offensive was launched on 4 November, which was accompanied by the declaration of a state of emergency, the creation of the State of Emergency Inquiry Board[112] and a shutdown of government services in the Tigray Region.[113][114] During the subsequent days, skirmishes continued and the Ethiopian federal parliament declared the creation of an interim government for Tigray.[115] Ethiopian offensives in the north were accompanied with airstrikes and several towns and cities were retaken.[116]

Mass graves (centre) and funeral services (left and right) for the victims of the Mai Kadra massacre

On the night of 9 to 10 November 2020, 600 civilians, mostly Amharas and Welkait, were killed in a massacre in the town of Mai Kadra with machetes and knives used by local militias and police loyal to the TPLF, according to preliminary investigations by Amnesty International and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.[117][118] While refugees interviewed by the Financial Times[119] and Reuters[120] said it was the Amhara militia who were the perpetrators and Tigrayans who were the victims.

Two days later, refugees interviewed by the Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and The New York Times stated that Amhara militias, including Fano,[121][122] and the ENDF[66] carried out beatings and a massacre of 20 Tigrayans in Humera. Humera was shelled from the direction of the Eritrean–Ethiopian border for two days around 9–11 November. The ENDF gained control of Humera on 12 November.[123]

Offensives of joint ENDF-Amhara Region-Eritrean forces into Tigray were facilitated by the intervention of "Pterosaurus" drones, launched by the United Arab Emirates from its base in Assab, Eritrea. The Chinese-made, armed drones bombed Tigrayan towns and defense forces.[124][dubious ] [125][b]

In the late hours of 13 November 2020, Tigray forces fired a rocket towards the airports of Bahir Dar and Gondar in the Amhara Region.[127] On 14 November, Tigray forces launched rockets at the Eritrean capital of Asmara, but the missiles missed.[128] The Tigray government claimed these locations contained military terminals that served as bases to carry out airstrikes.[129]

Mekelle offensive

On 17 November 2020, the Ethiopian government accused the TPLF of blowing up four main bridges leading to Mekelle. The Tigray government denied the accusations. From 17 to 19 November, Ethiopian forces captured the Raya district and the towns of Shire, Alamata, Adwa, and Axum.[130][131][132] In Raya there were an estimated 760 casualties from both forces. While fighting between Tigray and Ethiopia continued in Zalambessa and Ethiopian forces starting moving towards Adigrat.[133] Fighting between Tigray and Eritrea took place in Adi Quala, Zalembesa, Taruna, Ali Tina, Wadqomdi, and Bademe.[134]

The aftermath of an airstrike on Mekelle

On 23 November, Ethiopian forces reached the regional capital of Mekelle and encircled it. A military spokesperson for Ethiopia, Colonel Dejene Tsegaye, announced that Mekelle would be shelled, and told Tigray civilians to flee the city because Ethiopian forces would show no mercy.[135][110] Many residents of Mekelle had already left the city due to airstrikes in and around the city, but many others still remained in the city.[47]

Even though TPLF leaders, Tigray Special Forces, and militia forces had already left the city, the Ethiopian forces still began their direct assault on Mekelle on the morning of 28 November and started heavy shelling of the city. By the evening Prime Minister Abiy declared Ethiopian forces had taken full control of the city. In total 27 civilians were killed and 100 others were injured.[47] The Tigray government vowed to continue fighting.[136] Two days later Prime Minister Abiy claimed no civilians were killed.[47]

Tigray forces retreat and guerrilla warfare

Estimated territorial control on 23 April 2021

After Ethiopian federal forces and their allies captured Mekelle and other major cities, forces loyal to the Tigray government began to regroup into mountainous areas of the region and reorganized under the banner of the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF).[137][138] This retreat was partially caused by the fact that a large portion of the TDF's artillery had been destroyed by air strikes.[139] The TDF also began to dig into their positions in rural Tigray.[140]

Afterwards the TDF then started a guerrilla campaign against Ethiopian-allied forces from the mountains.[138] By mid-December, fighting had reached Hagere Selam, Samre, Dogu’a, Kolla Tembien, May Tsemre and localities around Maychew.[141] During this time, a violently enforced curfew was set up by Ethiopian forces along with Eritrean soldiers.[141] According to the Europe External Programme with Africa (EEPA), in Wukro over 200 people were killed and the town was left deserted. The Ethiopian government denied involvement in the killing.[141]

The early gains made by the ENDF and Eritrean Defence Forces (EDF) against the Tigray forces did not lead to a decisive defeat of the re-organized and invigorated TDF.[142] In late January 2021, the TDF had rallied and were intensifying their insurgency against Ethiopian forces despite the initial setbacks and heavy losses.[137] During this time fighting was reported to have taken place around Mekelle, and the ENDF had retreated from rural positions towards the city.[143] Several of these clashes took place in mid-February at Samre, a small town 45 km (28 mi) south-west of Mekelle. Thousands of Ethiopian troops supported by artillery, tanks, and airstrikes fought dug-in forces loyal to the Tigray regional government.[137] The Guardian reported in late April 2021 that there was renewed fighting in the area.[137]

In April 2021, the TDF was in control of the rural areas of central and southern Tigray along with parts of eastern and south-eastern Tigray, while the ENDF was in control of the main roads and urban areas. Amhara and Eritrean forces also controlled parts of Tigray in the west and north, respectively. All sides wished to secure a military victory, but they lacked the ability to do so in the near term and so they began to prepare for a prolonged conflict.[140] The Tigray Defense Forces were engaged in a war of attrition with popular support from the people of Tigray, who were infuriated by war crimes committed by Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers and worried about a potential decrease in the region's autonomy.[144][138] This resulted in the TDF growing in strength and the concept of secession from Ethiopia gaining popularity in Tigray, a stance which was considered likely to inflame Amhara-Tigray territorial disputes.[140]

According to refugees, the EDF killed 80–150 people in Idaga Hamus on 30 November, part of a larger series of extrajudicial killings known as the Adigrat massacres.[145][146] On 26 December 2020, it was reported by EEPA that Eritrea had started to withdraw some of its troops from Tigray.[147]

On 9 January 2021, Ethiopian TV reported that 300 refugees in Hitsats camp were executed by the TPLF.[148] According to refugees, pro-TPLF forces used Hitsats as a base for several weeks in November 2020, killing several refugees who wanted to leave the camp to get food and, in one incident, killed nine young Eritrean men in revenge for having lost a battle against the EDF.[149] On 18 February 2021, unidentified militiamen ambushed a passenger bus in Adi Mesino, killing six and injuring 10.[150] On 20 February, Yemane Niguse, a prominent Tigrayan dissident was assassinated in his birth town of Hewane by unknown assailants. The federal Ethiopian authorities accused the TPLF of responsibility for the assassination.[151]

On 1 April 2021, an undated video surfaced that purported to show Ethiopian troops executing 11 unarmed men before disposing of their bodies near Mahibere Dego.[152] On 6 May 2021, Ethiopia's House of Peoples’ Representatives declared the TPLF as a terrorist organization.[153] On 21 May, Ethiopia's military prosecutors convicted 3 soldiers of rape and pressed charges against over 50 others suspected of killing civilians in Tigray or committing rape and other forms of sexual violence.[154] The statement also confirmed reports of two massacres in Tigray, stating that 229 civilians were killed in the town of Mai Kadra at the beginning of November, and accusing troops from Eritrea of killing 110 civilians in the city of Axum on 27 and 28 November.[154][83]

Eritrean occupation of the northeast

On 28 and 29 November 2020, witnesses and survivors, including refugees in Sudan, reported that the Eritrean Defence Forces carried out the Axum massacre of about 720 to 800 civilians.[155][156][157]

The Eritrean government stated that it was angered by Amnesty International's report on the massacre, that the report was "fallacious" and that the Eritrean government had not been contacted by Amnesty International prior to publication. The Eritrean government also said: "It must be underscored that Amnesty made absolutely no attempt to seek any information from Eritrea. Moreover, the fabricated Axum accusation has mutated over the last month from a 'massacre of Orthodox Christians at St. Mary's Church' to 'house-to-house' killing of civilians."[158]

The situation on the ground has changed drastically following a guerilla warfare campaign by the TDF and in February 2021, the UN chief coordinator of humanitarian efforts Mark Lowcock said that up to 40% of Tigray was not controlled by Ethiopian troops. He said that much of that area was under the control of Eritrean soldiers pursuing their own objectives independent of Ethiopian command.[159]

Refugees told VICE World News that Eritrea was in control of parts of the northern Maekelay Zone and most likely extending beyond the zone. Different refugees told VICE that not only did Eritreans cross into border areas, but they also took control of the area. One refugee from Maekelay told them "Since the war started, we haven't seen a single Ethiopian soldier. Only Eritreans, they occupy the rural areas."[160]

On 16 June 2021, the Ethiopian ambassador to the UN stated that Eritrean troops in Tigray were to "definitely leave soon".[161]

Tigrayan counter-offensive

Retaking of Mekelle

Letay Girmay, 50, says she and other Hawzen residents buried the bodies of many civilians after battles in their town

On 22 June 2021, an Ethiopian military cargo plane was shot down over Samre, marking a turn of the war in the TDF's favor.[162] On 28 June 2021, the Tigray Defense Forces retook the city of Mekelle. People celebrated in the streets of Mekelle as the TDF took the city.[163][164] Ethiopian soldiers, police and administrators were seen leaving, ahead of the occupation by the TDF. Shortly after hearing news of the TDF advance, the Ethiopian government declared an immediate unilateral ceasefire across the Tigray Region.[165] BBC News reporter Vivienne Nunis characterised the ceasefire as an attempt by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to save face, the government having little other option.[166]

On 29 June 2021, Tigrayan forces vowed to continue their offensive and drive into Eritrea or the Amhara Region if necessary and said that Mekelle was 100% under the control of Tigrayan forces.[167] On 30 June 2021, the TDF had entered the town of Shire, some 140 kilometres (87 mi) northwest of Mekelle, after it had been abandoned by Eritrean troops. The International Crisis Group claimed that the TDF now controlled most of the Tigray region.[166] The Ethiopian government claimed, on 30 June, that it could re-enter Mekelle in less than three weeks if it wanted to. In the same announcement, the Ethiopian government stated that all Eritrean forces had withdrawn from the region, though this was not confirmed by the Eritrean government.[168]

Tigray push in Afar and Amhara

On 6 July 2021, the Tigrayan government began a mobilisation to retake western Tigray from Amhara forces.[169] A TDF offensive starting on 12 July resulted in Tigrayan forces capturing southern Tigray, including the towns of Alamata and Korem.[170] The TDF subsequently crossed the Tekezé River and advanced westward, capturing the town of Mai Tsebri in the Tselemti district and prompting Amhara officials to call on its militias to arm themselves and mobilise.[171] Following the TDF's rapid advances, Abiy threatened to resume war with Tigray and crush the rebels, raising fears of genocide.[172] He called on other regions of Ethiopia to mobilise their special forces. The Oromia, Sidama, and SNNPR regions answered the call and mobilised.[173]

In response the TDF invaded the Afar Region to its east, prompting the Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambela, Harari and Somali regions to join the war.[2] Heavy fighting in western Afar displaced over 54,000 people and resulted in the TDF reportedly capturing three districts in the region.[174]

While the Tigray government claimed it only entered Afar to target federal forces, experts believe their aim was to sever a portion of National Highway A1, a vital trade route for landlocked Ethiopia, linking the capital of Addis Ababa to the Port of Djibouti, from which most of its petroleum products are imported.[175][176] Following the TDF's counter-attack on two districts of his region, the Amhara regional President, Agegnehu Teshager, called for the total mobilisation of all people of all ages who are armed in the region to fight against the Tigrayans. A similar call was made in Afar.[3] Meanwhile, the city of Weldiya was besieged by the TDF,[177] then captured on 12 August 2021.[178]

On 4 August 2021, some Agaw people (also known as Agew people) declared themselves independent from the Amhara Region and formed the Agew Liberation Front (ALF),[179] aligning itself with the TDF.[citation needed] The next day Lalibela was reported to have been seized by Tigrayan forces.[180][181] On 9 August, UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore expressed concern about reports that over 200 people, including 100 children, had been killed in attacks on displaced families sheltering at a health facility and a school in the Afar Region.[182] On 11 August, the TDF and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) announced an alliance to overthrow Abiy Ahmed's government, saying they were also in talks with other rebel groups to establish a "grand coalition".[183] With the TDF advancing deeper into Amhara, various cities across the region began enforcing curfews.[184]

On 9 September 2021, the Ethiopian government claimed Tigrayan forces had been "routed" and heavily defeated in the Afar Region. Tigrayan spokesperson Getachew Reda said its forces had seen no fighting in Afar and had redeployed to the adjoining Amhara Region.[185] On 30 September, amid UN concerns about a blockade of aid deliveries to Tigray, the Ethiopian government expelled 7 top UN officials, reportedly because of "meddling" in its internal affairs, giving the officials 72 hours to leave the country.[186][187]

Federal government allied offensive

On 8 October 2021, Tigrayan spokesperson Getachew Reda said an intensive air campaign by the Ethiopian Air Force began against TDF positions in the North Wollo and North Gondar zones of the Amhara Region, mostly around the towns of Wegeltena, Wurgessa and Haro.[188] He also stated there was a "massive build up of forces on all fronts".[188] The federal government and Amhara Regional Government did not respond to the claim.[188] On 11 October, Ethiopian-allied forces launched coordinated ground attacks "on all fronts" against the TDF with combined arms including tanks, helicopters, heavy artillery, warplanes, and drones according to the Tigrayan government.[189][190] General Tsadkan Gebretensae, member of the central command of the TDF said both sides had been preparing for the offensive for months, and predicted that battle would be “decisive”.[139]

The new offensive effectively ended the unilateral ceasefire declared by the federal government in June[191] and further deepened fears of the developing famine in Tigray, with a federal government blockade still preventing most aid from arriving.[139] Meanwhile, the continued war prompted regional leaders, including Kenyan President Kenyatta, to voice their concerns and urge peace, while US Secretary of State Blinken met with the AU envoy to Ethiopia, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, to discuss the crisis.[139]

On 13 October, Getachew claimed fighting continued intensifying with "staggering" casualties. He also claimed clashes were taking place near Weldiya and that fighting had resumed in Afar, within the Awra and Chifra districts near the Amhara border.[192][193] A humanitarian worker citing witnesses said the EDF were fighting the TDF in Berhale, a town in Afar 71 kilometres (44 mi) northeast of Mekelle.[193]

TDF-OLA joint counter-offensive

Fall of Dessie & Kombolcha

On 30 October, it was reported that Dessie had fallen to the TDF. However, control over the city was not immediately certain, with the federal government denying its capture and reports of fierce fighting coming from the town.[194] On 31 October, the TDF claimed to have captured Kombolcha, a town 12 km (7.5 mi) east of Dessie, and the Ethiopian government accused the TDF of massacring over 100 youths in the town.[195] On the same day, the Amhara Regional Government declared a state of emergency, which included a region-wide curfew.[196]

South of Kombolcha, the OLA claimed to have seized control over Kamisee on the A2 Highway which links Mekelle to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa,[61] and later declared they were considering an offensive towards the capital.[62] The TDF claimed they also linked up with the OLA.[197] Meanwhile, it was reported that a new roundup of ethnic Tigrayans had occurred in Addis Ababa.[197]

State of emergency and rebel coalition

On 2 November 2021, as the counter-offensive came deeper into federal-controlled territory, the Ethiopian government declared a six-month state of emergency, which envisages the possibility to arrest and detain critics of the government without a court warrant, impose curfews, institute censorship, restrict freedom of movement as well as to call any adult person to fight in the war, for fear of serving from three to ten years in prison.[198][199] Authorities in Addis Ababa also told residents to register their weapons in order to fend off the anticipated offensive. Four other regional governments also made a call to arms.[21][62] On 5 November, the TPLF, OLA and other rebel groups declared the creation of a nine-group coalition, called the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces.[200]

On 22 November, Prime Minister Abiy stated that he will be leading the fight against the rebels from the battlefront after the TDF claimed to have captured Shewa Robit.[201][202] Saying; “We are now in the final stages of saving Ethiopia".[203] Many countries also urged citizens to leave the country.[203]

Spillover

Spillover into Sudan

By 28 November 2020, thousands of people were believed to have been killed in the conflict and around 44,000 fled to Sudan.[56] On 29 November, claims that South Sudan was giving safe haven to Debretsion, led to the Ethiopian ambassador to South Sudan abruptly returning to Ethiopia, and South Sudanese diplomats in Ethiopia allegedly being given 72 hours to leave the country.[204]

On 15 December 2020, four Sudanese soldiers were killed, and 27 others were injured near the Ethiopia–Sudan border, in what Sudan claimed to be an ambush by Ethiopian forces and militias. A Sudanese soldier later claimed that Ethiopian forces had launched artillery attacks on them and intruded into the Jebel al-Teyyour area, located 7 kilometers inside Sudan. Other soldiers claimed that the attackers were Amhara Region militias. Ethiopia claimed the clashes were Ethiopia trying to stop a Sudanese militia which had tried to cross into Ethiopian territory and seize farmlands.[25][205]

In response to the killings, Sudan started to build up its military along the border with Ethiopia. Military sources claimed that Sudan had recaptured Jebel al-Teyyour. On 19 December, Sudanese army and Rapid Support Forces were reported to have retaken areas previously taken by Ethiopia and Amhara Region militias in Al Qadarif, Sudan.[206][207][208]

Spillover in Somalia

On 7 December heavy fighting broke out between African Union Mission to Somalia and Ethiopian troops in Halgan District, Somalia, when Ethiopian troops tried to disarm Tigrayan troops within their ranks. In total 21 Ethiopian soldiers of Tigrayan origin and 20 other Ethiopian soldiers were killed in the internal military mutiny.[209]

Alleged Somali involvement

Since the outbreak of the Tigray War, there have been multiple unconfirmed reports of Somali troops being sent from a secret training base in Eritrea ran by the National Intelligence and Security Agency to fight against the newly formed TDF.[136] The first of these reports came in January 2021 from unverified social media accounts.[146] The same month Somalia's information minister, Osman Abukar Dubbe, confirmed Somali soldiers were training in Eritrea but denied any of these troops had been sent to Tigray. According to the Voice of America, several sources with direct knowledge of the program, including three Somali officials and a foreign diplomat, confirmed to them that Somali troops have been training in neighbouring Eritrea.[146]

A small group of parents also protested in Mogadishu about what they said was the government’s mismanagement of the issue. They demanded information on their loved ones who they say they haven't seen in a year.[146][136] The head of Somalia's parliamentary committee on foreign affairs would also ask the Somali president to investigate claims by family members that their sons had gone off to fight in Ethiopia and are now missing.[210] On 19 January 2021, the Somalian government denied the claim that Somali troops had trained in Eritrea and then deployed in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia.[211][212]

Former head of the Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency, Abdilsalan Guld,[213][214] has claimed that Somali troops were sent to Tigray. Guld stated that the soldiers, aged from 20 to 30 years old, were secretly taken from Mogadishu and sent to Asmara for military training.[214] Guld stated that 370 of the Somali troops trained by Eritrea were killed in Tigray, and hundreds of others were wounded.[214][212]

War crimes

Numerous war crimes have been committed by the Ethiopian, Eritrean and Amhara Regional forces during the Tigray War.[47][215][216]

Many sources have accused the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments of engaging in crimes against humanity via ethnic cleansing of Tigrayans.[217][218][219][220][221] The Ethiopian and Eritrean governments have also been accused of genocide. The non-profit Genocide Watch classified the events as step 9 of genocide, eradication, as well as step 10, denial.[222][223][224][225][226][227] According to the EU's special envoy to Ethiopia, Pekka Haavisto, senior members of the Ethiopian government called for "wip[ing] out" all Tigrayans for 100 years.[228][229][230] The Ethiopian Government denied the allegations.[231]

Genocide Watch issued another emergency alert on 20 November 2021, stating that "both sides are committing genocide", referring to detentions of thousands of people based on Oromo or Tigrayan ethnic identity, and arguing that "Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's hate speech and calls for war" together with attacks by the ENDF and TPLF put Ethiopia into stages 4 (dehumanization), 6 (polarization), 8 (persecution), and 9 (extermination) of the ten stages of genocide.[232]

In early September 2021, the Tigray Defense Forces were accused of extrajudicially killing 100–200 villagers in Chenna Teklehaymanot in the Amhara Region. A visit by the Associated Press (AP) found that poorly trained village militia members of both genders, some in military clothing, had been killed. Residents said that Tigrayan forces had killed villagers who had resisted looting but also blamed Ethiopian federal forces for abandoning the villagers to defend themselves unaided by regular troops.[233]

Investigations into the war crimes include the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) joint investigation, which published its findings on 3 November 2021,[234] and the ACHPR Tigray investigation by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR),[235] expected to publish its findings by the end of 2021.[236]

Humanitarian crisis

Voice of America video about the impact of the war on the holy city of Axum

Humanitarian aid

The percentage of people in need reached with food aid as at 31 May 2021. White=0% shading to Black at 100%
Restricted humanitarian access due to the ongoing conflict

According to the United Nations (UN), some 2.3 million children have been cut off from desperately needed aid and humanitarian assistance. Since the start of the conflict, the Ethiopian federal government has strictly controlled access to the Tigray Region, and the UN has said it is frustrated that talks with the Ethiopian government had not yet secured adequate humanitarian access for "food, including ready-to-use therapeutic food for the treatment of child malnutrition, medicines, water, fuel, and other essentials that are running low" said UNICEF.[237][238][239][240][241] By 13 March 2021, the UN and its partners reached about 0.9 million people with complete food baskets, and 0.7 million people with clean water. Despite the progress made, many are still hard to reach due to ongoing fighting. About 4.5 million people of are still in need of aid and about 1 million of that are not in accessible areas due to ongoing fighting.[242]

Since the start of the conflict, there has been limited access to clean water due to hygiene and sanitation services largely being disrupted across Tigray. The Tigray Regional Water Bureau reported that out of 36 villages it assessed, only 4 had partially functioning water sources. Along with that, an estimated 250 motorized water pumping systems have been out of order, and the status of 11,000 hand pumps in rural areas was unknown. Because of this, there has been a heightened risk of outbreaks of water-borne diseases and COVID-19.[242]

In February 2021, GOAL Ethiopia, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), MCMDO, MSF-Spain, and World Vision, found that nearly one in seven children in 16 woredas and town administrations across Tigray were acutely malnourished. While in Enderta, Abi Adi and Shire, GOAL and IRC reported that 16.6% of children screened had acute malnutrition with 3.5% suffering from severe acute malnutrition.[242]

According to the UN, out of more than 260 health centres in Tigray before the war, only 31 are fully functional, while 7 are partially functional. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), all of the functioning hospitals and health centres in Tigray had a lack of medical supplies, drugs, and equipment. UN partners reported continued looting of health facilities. Only 16% of the health facilities had vaccination services and only 17% had maternal services (antenatal care, birth delivery, etc.).[242]

On 31 August 2021, USAID's mission director in Ethiopia, Sean Jones said: "We do have proof that several of our warehouses have been looted and completely emptied in the areas, particularly in Amhara, where TPLF soldiers have gone into, I do believe that the TPLF has been very opportunistic," in a televised interview with state broadcaster EBC in Addis Ababa.[243][244] All parties to the conflict have been accused by USAID of looting aid shipments.[243]

Internal displacement and forced displacement

Internal migration due to the Tigray War; red is a decrease in population while green is an increase

In November 2020, the Amhara Region Special Force[245] and Amhara militias loyal to the Amhara regional government[138] took control of the western zone of Tigray in order to settle a decades-old land dispute. They claim the area was taken from them by force in 1992 after TPLF forces overthrew the communist PDRE government and divided the country into ethnic regional states. They have also claimed the woredas (districts) of Welkait, Tegede, Kafta Humera, Tselemti, and Raya to be theirs.[246]

Since then, the area has been under the de facto control of Amhara regional authorities. Their control has been marked by reports of ethnically motivated violence and forced displacement. By February 2021, about 45,000 civilians had been forced to leave the zone due to extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, and the disappearances of people, especially young men.[245] One refugee interviewed by Reuters said that if they didn't leave when they did, they would have been killed by Amhara forces. 41 other refugees interviewed have also described attacks, looting, and threats by Amhara forces.[247]

In March 2021, Mulu Nega, then leader of the federal-government-appointed Transitional Government of Tigray, stated that Amhara de facto administrators of Western Tigray used violence against ethnic Tigrayans and forcibly displaced them. Yabsira Eshetie, the administrator of the area, denied the claims. The Amhara government also denied the reports of forced displacement and asked the Ethiopian government to modify the border between the Amhara and Tigray regions. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that there had been acts of ethnic cleansing in Tigray.[247]

Possible COVID-19 outbreaks were feared as refugees fleeing the Tigray conflict sheltered in crowded camps.[248]

In November 2020, the UN warned of "very critical" supply shortages for the nearly 100,000 Eritrean refugees who, prior to the war, were registered in four camps in Tigray region.[249][250] Later that same month, the UN reported that people in Tigray were fleeing Mekelle. The federal government had warned of "no mercy" if Tigray forces and residents remained intermingled.[249][251]

As of December 2020, the UN estimated more than one million people had been internally displaced by the fighting.[249] More than 50,000 people have fled to Sudan due to the conflict.[252][253] Communications and travel links were still blocked, and Human Rights Watch warned that "actions that deliberately impede relief supplies" would violate international humanitarian law.[249]

There were "deeply distressing reports of sexual and gender-based violence, extrajudicial killings, [and the] widespread destruction and looting of public and private property by all parties" according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.[254] More than 136 cases of rape have also been reported in hospitals in Mekelle, Ayder, Adigrat and Wukro in eastern Tigray between December 2020 and January 2021, with indications that there are many more such unreported cases.[254]

As of 2 February 2021, 20,000 of the Eritrean refugees in Tigray, mostly from the Hitsats and Shimelba camps, remained unaccounted for, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.[255] By March, Shire Inda Selassie had become a major centre for internally displaced people and humanitarian aid distribution.[256]

In September 2021, the humanitarian situation continued to worsen in Tigray, Afar and Amhara Regions both due to the armed conflict itself and due to bureaucratic obstruction. Two thousand displaced people returned to the Fantí Rasu zone in Afar Region after the ENDF and Afar Special Forces regained control and OCHA partner organisations' access to improved.[257]

Attacks on humanitarian workers

There have been several reported attacks on humanitarian workers, including attacks by Ethiopian government soldiers.[258][259][260][261] The Danish Refugee Council and the International Rescue Committee reported killings of their staff in early December 2020.[261] Although the Ethiopian federal government claimed to have given "full and unhindered access for humanitarian actors to operate in all parts of the region," many humanitarian agencies reported having been repulsed at army checkpoints and blocked from entry to various regions. There were accusations by US officials that armed forces were specifically singling out humanitarian workers for attack.[262]

On 23 March 2021, a driver from Médecins Sans Frontières was beaten by Ethiopian soldiers after witnessing extrajudicial killings by Ethiopian government soldiers.[258] Following the 23 June bombing of Togoga, there were reports of Ethiopian government soldiers firing on ambulances to prevent them from reaching the injured.[263] On 25 June 2021, three Médecins Sans Frontières workers were found murdered near their car in Tigray.[264][265]

Internet and media

Role of online social networks

Claire Wilmot, writing in The Washington Post, found that a significant number of new, single-issue Twitter accounts were opened in the immediate aftermath of the 4 November attacks. Most appeared to be authentic accounts from people seeking to raise international awareness of the conflict in the midst of a communications blackout in Tigray.[266] The Ethiopian government cited disinformation and hate speech to justify communications blackouts. Researchers suggested that reducing access to information could help to create contexts where misinformation can thrive because it reduces the ability to verify information.[266][267]

The Ethiopian government tried to control the information environment by positioning itself as the sole provider of reliable information.[267] In February, pro-government groups called on their supporters in Ethiopia and the diaspora to combat what they called "TPLF fake news" online.[268] Pro-government groups used tactics similar to those of pro-Tigray groups to push their narrative of the conflict, though as of 5 February, pro-government campaigns had produced fewer Tweets overall.[267] BBC News showed examples of manipulated photos which misleadingly endorsed both the federal Ethiopian government and the TPLF.[269]

Researchers found that groups use tactics such as "copy and paste" campaigns hosted on websites, which include instructions for opening new accounts, copying and pasting pre-written tweets, and tagging influencers. Both campaigns produced disinformation and misinformation, though the majority of content produced was activist in nature.[267] Wilmot suggested that the lines between authentic political activity and deliberate manipulation of online content during the conflict were increasingly blurred.[266]

Media

In November 2021, the Ethiopian Media Authority (EMA) threatened to cancel the media licences of BBC News, Reuters, CNN and Associated Press, accusing the news organisations of having "consistently disseminated news that sowed seeds of animosity among people and compromised the sovereignty of the country." The EMA cited "reporting the Law enforcement operation as a genocidal campaign" as an example of misleading information aiming to "undermin[e] the [federal] government's efforts to address the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region".[270]

Ethnic profiling of Tigrayans

Ethnic profiling against Tigrayans occurred during the Tigray War, with Ethiopians of Tigrayan ethnicity being put on indefinite leave from Ethiopian Airlines or refused permission to board,[271] prevented from overseas travel,[253] and an "order of identifying ethnic Tigrayans from all government agencies and NGOs" being used by federal police to request a list of ethnic Tigrayans from an office of the World Food Programme.[272] Tigrayans' houses were arbitrarily searched and Tigrayans' bank accounts suspended.[253]

Ethnic Tigrayan members of Ethiopian components of United Nations peacekeeping missions were disarmed and some forcibly flown back to Ethiopia, at the risk of torture or execution, according to United Nations officials. The State of Emergency Taskforce stated that the Tigrayan peacekeepers were returned to Ethiopia because of "infiltration of TPLF elements in various entities".[273][274] On 1 November 2021, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed stated that "we should closely follow those who work for the enemy and live amongst us", as reports of a new roundup of ethnic Tigrayans came out of Addis Ababa.[197]

Peace process

Several proposals for peace negotiations and mediation were made involving some of the main groups involved in the war. Around 9 November 2020, Debretsion asked the African Union (AU) to stop the war and requested peace negotiations; Abiy refused to negotiate.[73][74] From 25 to 27 November 2020, a trio of former African presidents appointed by AU chair Cyril Ramaphosa visited Ethiopia with the aim of mediating;[75] they met Abiy and representatives of the Transitional Government of Tigray (that he had appointed to officially replace the government led by the TPLF).[76] An emergency Intergovernmental Authority on Development summit of East African heads of government and state met on 20 December 2020 in Djibouti, resulting in a statement of support for the Ethiopian constitutional order and humanitarian access to the Tigray Region.[77]

On 19 February 2021, the TPLF expressed its wish for peace negotiations, declaring eight preconditions for the negotiations.[78] On 20 February, the National Congress of Great Tigray (Baytona), Tigray Independence Party (TIP) and Salsay Weyane Tigray (SAWET) published six demands to the international community that closely overlapped with the TPLF's pre-conditions.[79] The possibility of Tigray seceding from Ethiopia was debated by Tigrayans in 2021. As of 2021, secession was opposed by senior officials within the TPLF and popular among younger people in Tigray, with expectations that an independence referendum could be organised.[275][276]

On 11 March 2021, the US ambassador to Ethiopia, Geeta Pasi, announced support for joint humanitarian activities by international partners and the Government of Ethiopia.[277] During early August 2021, the Government of Sudan attempted to act as a mediator in supporting a peace deal, but its efforts were rejected by the Ethiopian government, who claimed that due to the ongoing border dispute between the two countries over al-Fashaga, Sudan would not be able to act as a neutral mediator.[278]

The "A3+1" (or A3 plus one), consisting of three African countries, Kenya, Niger and Tunisia and one non-African country, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, is a mediation group in the spirit of "African solutions to African challenges".[81] The A3+1 group called for "mediation of the deep divides as part of an Ethiopian-owned process" with support from existing peace and conflict resolution structure, "especially those of the African Union".[80][81]

Reactions

Video of a reenactment of the suffering of ethnic Tigrayans

Domestic

  • In the first week of November 2020, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) issued a statement saying "ONLF is gravely concerned about the … outbreak of war in and around Tigray. The nations of Ethiopia have had their share of wars and natural disasters, and were expecting a period of reprieve and recuperation. Consensus and dialogue are the only way forward for all to reach a win-win solution". An anonymous civil society member in Jigjiga stated: "We oppose the decision of [Somali Region] President Mustafe to portray Somalis in Ethiopia as supporters of the war against Tigray".[279]
  • On 12 November 2020, TPLF chairman Debretsion Gebremichael denied allegations that the Tigray forces had surrendered, stating that "we are still holding. These people cannot defeat us. We cannot be beaten."[280]
  • On 27 November, Ethiopian Attorney General, Gedion Timothewos, pressed by the BBC's Stephen Sackur to clarify if his country was now "sinking into civil war", responded: "If the Prime Minister were to let the TPLF go on with the kind of things they have been doing, if he had let them acquire the heavy weaponry they wanted to acquire by attacking the Northern Command, yes, we would have descended into that kind of situation; but by taking the measures we are taking right now, we will be able to avert that possibility."[281]
  • When Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018, he made significant reforms to Ethiopia's judicial system, economy, and foreign policy. According to an article by Hailemariam Desalegn, the former prime minister of Ethiopia, TPLF officials were concerned these moves were going to threaten their political and economic position in the federation.[88] Thus, according to Hailemariam, TPLF officials started defying the orders from the federal government and made overt and covert actions to undermine and delegitimise the Ethiopian parliament, armed forces and the federal government.
  • On 10 September 2021, a collective of 24 Ethiopian civil society organisations called for peace in Ethiopia, stating:[282]

The root causes that gave rise to the conflict initially will not be sustainably resolved through war and violence. Even when one believes otherwise, doing so will cost the general public a lot. The situation of unarmed civilians is so imminent that it cannot wait. The conflict has principally affected vulnerable groups of society such as women, and girls, children, and the elderly.[282]

International

  • Canada Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne called on all parties to show restraint. Champagne also called for a peaceful solution and protection of civilians.[283]
  • China At the UN Security Council meeting, China objected to interfering in Ethiopia's internal affairs.[284]
  • Djibouti Djiboutian President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh expressed strong support for Abiy, saying that he had chosen to "restore law and order at the federal level, and punish those seeking to break up the country" and dismissed the prospect of negotiations, saying that the TPLF had "structured itself so as to bring the central government to its knees" and that talks could "only lead to the partition of Ethiopia", setting a precedent for secession by other groups in the region.[9]
  • Eritrea Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki stated in a February 2021 Eritrean television interview that the 2018 Ethiopia–Eritrea peace agreement had been "a clear indication that the role of [the TPLF had] ended or 'game over'". He stated that Eritrea had "the responsibility and obligation to support Ethiopia more than any of our other neighbouring countr[ies]", which "is why [Eritrea is] supporting Ethiopia and the conflict over the [previous] 3 months".[285]
  • India At the UN Security Council meeting, India objected to interfering in Ethiopia's internal affairs.[284]
  •  Japan extended its emergency grant aid of 6.6 million US dollars for people affected by the war.[286]
  •  Kenya, expressed the need for the Ethiopian leaders to seek peaceful resolution to the conflict.[287]
  • Turkey Minister of Foreign Affairs (Turkey) Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated that the Turkish government "understood" the federal Ethiopian government's decision and "expressed his confidence that the operation would end soon and not compromise the safety of civilians."[288][289][290][291]
  • Norway Norway said it was "deeply concerned by reports of the use of SGBV in Tigray. Norway joins UN Special Rapporteur Pramilla Patten in calling on all parties to commit to a zero-tolerance policy for SGBV. Obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law must be respected."
  • Poland The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in response to the massacre in the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, "We strongly condemn the perpetrators of this barbaric crime committed in a place of worship. We expect the Ethiopian authorities to immediately take all possible to clarify its circumstances and punish the perpetrators.” Poland also called "on the parties to the conflict to refrain from violence and respect human rights, to ensure the safety of civilian population, and to properly protect the places of worship and freedom of religion. We appeal for an unimpeded access for humanitarian deliveries to the Tigray province.[292]
  • Russia At the UN Security Council meeting, Russia objected to interfering in Ethiopia's internal affairs.[284]
  • Somalia Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo politically supports the current military actions taken by the Ethiopian government against Tigray People's Liberation Front.[10]
  • United Kingdom British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he had spoken with Abiy and urged "de-escalation of the Tigray conflict" and further stated that "civilians and humanitarian access must be protected".[293]
  • United States Then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged de-escalation of the conflict and immediate action to restore peace, and emphasized the importance of protecting civilians.[296] Then US President-elect Joe Biden's foreign policy adviser Antony Blinken expressed deep concern over the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia, ethnic violence and threats to peace and security in the area. He called on the TPLF to protect civilians and take steps to end the conflict.[297]
    • US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Tibor Nagy condemned the Tigray People's Liberation Front for their rocket attacks against Asmara, calling it an "unjustifiable attacks against Eritrea ... its efforts to internationalize the conflict in Tigray."[298]
    • On 27 February 2021, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged for the immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces and Amhara regional forces from Tigray. He also asked the African Union and regional partners, to work with the United States to address the crisis in Tigray.[299]
    • On 12 March, the US announced it would be resuming some aid to Ethiopia, which had previously been blocked by the Trump administration over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute, but that security assistance programs would remain suspended due to concerns over the conflict in Tigray.[300][301]
  • United StatesKenya President Joe Biden met with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to discuss the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Tigray and the need to prevent further loss of life and to ensure humanitarian access.[302]
  • United States On 17 September 2021, President Joe Biden signed a new executive order allowing Washington to take punitive sanctions against the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Tigray People's Liberation Front and the Amhara Regional government if they play a role in prolonging the conflict, obstructing humanitarian access or commit serious human rights abuses.[303]

Intergovernmental organizations

  • United Nations The United Nations (UN)
    • In November 2020, the UN warned that, if a full-scale conflict arose, it could lead to a major humanitarian crisis.[304]
    • Though the UN Security Council had planned "to issue a statement calling for an end to violence in Ethiopia's Tigray region," these plans were canceled on 5 March 2021 due to Chinese and Russian opposition.[305]
    • On 3 November 2021, the UN said that all sides in the conflict had "committed violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity."[306]
    • On 5 November 2021, the United Nations Security Council unanimously issued a statement calling "for a cessation of hostilities." A follow-up meeting is expected in the following week.[307][308]
  • European Union The European Commission said it was mobilizing an initial €4 million in emergency aid, in order to assist displaced Ethiopian refugees who had fled to Sudan.[309] The EU plans on cutting aid to and sanctioning other regions of Ethiopia due to the conflict.[310][311]
  • African Union The African Union (AU) appealed for cessation of hostilities and protection of civilians. The AU also stated that the European Union and United Nations Security Council should not intervene until an African Union envoy is sent to Ethiopia.[312]
    • The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, made a statement defending the Ethiopian Government by tweeting "In #Ethiopia, the federal govt took bold steps to preserve the unity, stability and respect for the constitutional order of the country; which is legitimate for all states. It cannot be denied, however, that the crisis in #Tigray has provoked large scale displacement. We encourage #IGAD to support #Ethiopia in addressing the humanitarian dimensions. Particular attention should be paid to refugees and displaced people. #IgadSummit."[313]
A woman holding a sign accusing Ethiopia of committing war crimes

Humanitarian organizations

  • Worldwide, humanitarian organizations and the scientific community asked for a rapid ceasefire and delivery of humanitarian aid to the people of Tigray.[314][315]
  • International petitions for humanitarian aid to Tigray have been launched, for instance by concerned scientists (Professors Jan Nyssen, Eloi Ficquet, Wolbert Smidt, Jozef Deckers, Istvan Tarrosy, Paolo Billi, Sil Lanckriet, Kjetil Tronvoll and others),[316] and another one on Avaaz.[317]

Domestic protests

On 9 February 2021, when religious leaders started a visit to Mekelle organized by federal authorities to show that the situation was "normal", protestors used stones and burnt tires to block central parts of the town in objection to the claim that the situation had returned to normality. Soldiers fired at the protestors, killing one. The head of the transport division of Ayder Referral Hospital and his son was beaten by soldiers and stated that there were many injured who were not being brought to the hospital.[318]

On 30 May 2021, more than 10,000 pro-Ethiopia protestors gathered in Addis Ababa to protest "Western intervention" in the domestic affairs of Ethiopia.[319] On 8 August 2021, thousands of protesters gathered in Addis Ababa to denounce the TDF.[320] On 7 November 2021, thousands of protesters gathered in Addis Ababa to denounce the TPLF and diplomatic efforts to end the war.[321]

Protests by the diaspora

Tigrayans demonstrating in New York City
A Tigray genocide protest on 26 March 2021 in New York City.
Tigrayan demonstration in Australia
A Tigrayan protest in Australia.
An Italian protest sign reading: "Help us stop the mass extermination of the population of Tigray!"

Ethiopians and Eritreans in the diaspora took to the streets to protest and express their views. These protests included:

Opposing conflict

Opposing rebels

  • On 10 March 2021, in Washington, D.C., U.S at the United States Department of State[341]
  • On 10–11 March 2021, in Toronto, Canada and "Several Canadian Cities"[341]
  • On 15 March 2021, in Geneva, Switzerland hundreds of Ethiopians (including some Eritreans) held a protest outside of the United Nations building in support of "the government actions taken against the Tigray People's Liberation Front".[342]
  • On 29 April 2021, in Milan, Italy 28 Ethiopians and Eritreans peacefully marched in support of the Ethiopian government.[343]
  • On 3 May 2021, in London, UK Eritreans and Ethiopians attended a "Peaceful Rally" supporting the actions of the federal Ethiopian government.[citation needed]
  • On 21 November 2021, Ethiopians and Eritreans protested in 27 cities across the world.[344][345][346]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Other maps of territorial control in this war are presented by MapEthiopia and in "Tigray: Atlas of the Humanitarian Situation".
  2. ^ A few EEPA articles begin with the following injunction: "Unconfirmed report".[126] has provided a summarized translation of the Chinese article.

References

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  2. ^ a b c d e Endeshaw, Dawit; Flick, Maggie (19 July 2021). "Ethiopia's Tigray forces enter neighbouring Afar region, Afar says". Reuters. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Ethiopia's Amhara state rallies residents to fight Tigrayans". Al Jazeera. 25 July 2021. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  4. ^ a b Endeshaw, Dawit (16 July 2021). "Three more regions reinforce Ethiopia army, Amhara against Tigray forces". Reuters.
  5. ^ "Ethiopia: Fear Tigray conflict could trigger all-out war". DW. 20 July 2021. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  6. ^ Endeshaw, Dawit (16 July 2021). "Three more regions reinforce Ethiopia army, Amhara against Tigray forces". Reuters. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  7. ^ Reuters Staff (23 March 2021). "Ethiopian PM confirms Eritrean troops entered Tigray during conflict". Reuters. Archived from the original on 23 March 2021. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Eritrea confirms its troops are fighting in Ethiopia's Tigray". Al Jazeera. 17 April 2021. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  9. ^ a b Soudan, François (24 November 2020). "'Abiy Ahmed had to punish those seeking to break up Ethiopia' – Djibouti President". The Africa Report. Archived from the original on 24 November 2020. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  10. ^ a b "Somalia supports Ethiopia's military actions in Tigray days after FM sacked". Garowe Online. Archived from the original on 3 February 2021. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  11. ^ a b Pamuk, Humeyra; Fick, Maggie (5 November 2021). Toby Chopra (ed.). "Ethiopian anti-government alliance says plans to dismantle government by force or negotiations". Reuters. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  12. ^ a b c Anna, Cara; Merchant, Norman (5 November 2021). "Tigray, other groups form alliance against Ethiopia's leader". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  13. ^ a b Anna, Cara (11 August 2021). "Ethiopia armed group says it has alliance with Tigray forces". AP News. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  14. ^ a b "Leaked EU Diplomatic Cable: Delegation of the European Union to Ethiopia". Scoop. 25 August 2021. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  15. ^ "The Afar Revolutionary Democratic United Front (UGUGUMO) condemn the massacre of over 200 innocent Afar". Ayyaantuu News. 25 August 2021. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  16. ^ Kifle, Shuwa. "Zerbricht Äthiopien im Bürgerkrieg?". heise online (in German). Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  17. ^ "The Sidama National Liberation Front to Join the Coalition of Resistance by the Federalist Forces". Sidama National Liberation Front. 23 August 2021. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  18. ^ Latif Dahir, Abdi; Jakes, Lara (5 November 2021). "Eight Groups Join Tigray Rebels Vowing to Oust Ethiopia's Leader". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  19. ^ "Tigrayan forces' capture of two towns raises fears for Ethiopian capital". The Guardian. 1 November 2021. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  20. ^ Bearak, Max (2 November 2021). "Ethiopians mobilize as advance of rebel groups toward capital threatens wider civil war". The Washington Post. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  21. ^ a b Flick, Maggie; et al. (2 November 2021). "Ethiopia declares state of emergency as Tigrayan forces gain ground". Reuters. Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  22. ^ International Crisis Group, 2 April 2021: Ethiopia’s Tigray War: A Deadly, Dangerous Stalemate
  23. ^ The New York Times, 22 January 2021: On ‘Rooftop of Africa,’ Ethiopia’s Troops Hunt Fugitive Former Rulers
  24. ^ "Wieder Luftangriffe der Armee in Tigray" (in German). Deutsche Welle. 9 November 2020. Archived from the original on 19 November 2020. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  25. ^ a b Reuters Staff (13 November 2020). "Factbox: The forces fighting in Ethiopia's Tigray conflict". Reuters. Archived from the original on 5 January 2021. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
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External links

Casualty recording websites:

Maps: