Six months later: no end in sight for Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict

Ethiopian Flag Ethiopian Flag Photo by Kelly Lacy on Pexels

04 May 2021

With continuous violence and the emergence of evidence of committed atrocities, it is useful to recap the origin and the evolution of the conflict in Tigray.

The conflict in Tigray began on 4 November 2020, when the Ethiopian National Defence Force (EDFN) started a military operation as a response to an alleged attack on a federal military camp by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The TPLF, which has been the region’s ruling party for 30 years, denied any responsibility by claiming that the actions of the EDFN amounted to invasion. Despite Ethiopian Prime Minister’s assurance that the operation would be over soon, the violence continued to escalate. For months the region has been subject to air raids, firing of rockets, and the shelling of Mekelle, the region’s capital. Although the Prime Minister announced the end of the operation on 28 November 2020, the fighting did not stop. It was mainly due to the involvement of the neighbouring Eritrean army, which was only publicly acknowledged by the Prime Minister on 23 March 2021.

Meanwhile, human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission all consistently report evidence of mass killings of civilians by the Eritrean armed forces. The latest figures presented by the UN on 27 April 2021 are horrifying: tens of thousands of people have been killed, almost two million are displaced and around 4.5 million are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

The Ethiopian mission to the UN maintains that due to the internal nature of the conflict, it must be governed by domestic law. However, Amnesty International has reported that despite the government’s efforts in providing resources and assistance, the humanitarian situation remains dire.

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Author: Martina Apicella; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

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