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World Fighting rages on as Ethiopia's war hits one-year mark

10:30  29 october  2021
10:30  29 october  2021 Source:   afp.com

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The Ethiopian Civil War was a civil war in Ethiopia and present-day Eritrea, fought between the Ethiopian military junta communist governments and Ethio-Eritrean anti-government rebels from September 1974 to June 1991.

In Ethiopia , intense fighting is reported to be continuing around the cities of Dessie and Kombolcha in Amhara state between the Tigrayan rebels and the Ethiopian army with its allies. The head of the International Red Cross (ICRC) has called for an urgent political solution to bring to an end the war in Ethiopia ' s northern region on Tigray, as heavy fighting continues to be reported near the strategic city of Dessie. Peter Maurer told the BBC in an interview that the crisis, which is nearing its one year mark , is worsening and the needs are bigger everyday.

Nearly a year ago, as the world awaited the outcome of the US presidential elections, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed deployed troops in Ethiopia's Tigray region.

Abiy promised that the operation, launched November 4 2020, would be swift and targeted. Instead, it has devolved into a prolonged war marked by massacres, mass rapes and a looming threat of famine.

By late June the rebels had recaptured most of Tigray, prompting the military to largely withdraw and Abiy's government to declare what it described as a 'humanitarian ceasefire' © EDUARDO SOTERAS By late June the rebels had recaptured most of Tigray, prompting the military to largely withdraw and Abiy's government to declare what it described as a 'humanitarian ceasefire'

- How did we get here?  -

The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner said from the beginning that his objective was to detain and disarm leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the regional ruling party which dominated national politics for three decades before Abiy took office.

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  Rep Sherman calls for naval forces in Ethiopian conflict, US diaspora frustrated by messaging As the humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia continues to escalate lawmakers on the Hill are calling on the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea to stop the violence – but Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., is looking to the U.S. Navy for help. "I'm reluctant to expose American armed forces to risk their safety at any time," Sherman said during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing this week. "But the American Navy could interrupt Eritrean commerce on the high seas at any time, and it would certainly be just to do so – as long as Eritrea [blocks] humanitarian aid to the people of Tigray." But the congressman’s call for action by U.S.

The Second Italo- Ethiopian War , also referred to as the Second Italo-Abyssinian War , was a war of aggression which was fought between Italy and Ethiopia from October 1935 to February 1937.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Even before fighting started in November between the Ethiopian government and powerful military forces in the country’ s northern region of Tigray, the area was home to as many as 200,000 refugees and displaced people, according to United Nations agencies. Now, with airstrikes increasing and the conflict intensifying, international aid groups say that tens of thousands more people are fleeing. But the organizations say that they have been prevented from helping. On Tuesday, aid groups appealed to the Ethiopian government to secure access for them to the Tigray

The move was unavoidable, he said, after the TPLF staged attacks on army camps in the region.

But it also followed months of tensions, with TPLF leaders complaining of being sidelined by Abiy's government.

After a few weeks of air strikes and heavy fighting, federal forces took control of the regional capital Mekele in late November and Abiy declared victory.

Yet in the months that followed, the TPLF mounted a successful counterinsurgency. 

By late June the rebels controlled most of the region again, prompting the military to largely withdraw and Abiy's government to declare what it described as a "humanitarian ceasefire". 

More than 400,000 people in Tigray have 'crossed the threshold into famine', a senior UN official said in July, and conditions have deteriorated since © Yasuyoshi CHIBA More than 400,000 people in Tigray have 'crossed the threshold into famine', a senior UN official said in July, and conditions have deteriorated since

- Where is the fighting now? -

Tigrayan forces claim to capture new town of Kombolcha

  Tigrayan forces claim to capture new town of Kombolcha Tigrayan fighters make new advance southwards as Ethiopian troops battle to secure the strategic city of Dessie.The fighters captured Kombolcha and its airport, said Getachew Reda, a spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

The First Italo- Ethiopian War was fought between Italy and Ethiopia from 1895 to 1896. It originated from the disputed Treaty of Wuchale, which the Italians claimed turned Ethiopia into an Italian protectorate.

Refugees said one person drowned while trying to cross the night before. Ethiopians who fled the continuing fighting in the Tigray region are seen at the Setit River on the Sudan- Ethiopia border [Tayeb Siddig/Reuters]. Niqisti, 42, said her brother was shot dead by government-allied militiamen in “They bombed with artillery, and the air force raided,” said Asmara Tefsay, a 31- year old mother. “Then we saw the soldiers approaching and I fled with my two children, my mother and my father.” The refugees quoted by news agencies appeared traumatised by the sheer intensity of the bombardments

The TPLF then launched offensives into the neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions.

Its leaders said their goals were to deny Abiy's forces the chance to regroup and re-enter Tigray and to break what the UN describes as a de facto blockade on humanitarian aid.

Abiy, in turn, called for mass mobilisation against the TPLF, which his government has officially designated a terrorist group. 

In recent weeks fighting has been concentrated in Amhara, south of Tigray.

Much of northern Ethiopia is under a communications blackout and access for journalists is restricted, making battlefield claims difficult to verify independently.

TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda has not ruled out a march on Addis Ababa, telling AFP: "If that's what it takes to break the siege on Tigray, why not?"

Tigray itself has seen little fighting since late June, yet the Ethiopian air force has carried out a series of air strikes there in recent days.

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War rages on in Ethiopia ’ s Tigray region – with civilians bearing the brunt of a brutal conflict marked by atrocities. Under international pressure, Addis Ababa has offered concessions on aid access and pledged that Eritrean troops will withdraw. But prospects of a negotiated settlement appear dim. Though Ethiopia ’ s federal government claimed the war in the country’s Tigray region was over in November, fighting continues – at great cost to a stricken population trapped in a multi-sided conflict.

Refugees said one person had drowned trying to cross the night before. Ethiopians who have fled the continuing fighting in the Tigray region are seen at the Setit River on the Sudan- Ethiopia border [Tayeb Siddig/Reuters]. Niqisti, 42, said his brother was shot dead by government-allied militiamen outside Many have told stories of artillery attacks and shooting in the streets, with fighting spilling over into neighboring Amhara state. “ I saw women giving birth on the road, but then keep walking because they feared Ethiopian soldiers would kill them,” said Roni Gezergil, a 25- year -old engineer.

The government blames the TPLF for Tigray's aid woes, saying its incursions into Afar and Amhara have obstructed deliveries © Yasuyoshi CHIBA The government blames the TPLF for Tigray's aid woes, saying its incursions into Afar and Amhara have obstructed deliveries

The government says the strikes target rebel facilities including training centres, but the TPLF denounce a disregard for civilian lives. 

Over a dozen people have died since the campaign began this month.

- How bad is the humanitarian situation? -

More than 400,000 people in Tigray have "crossed the threshold into famine", a senior UN official told the Security Council in July, and conditions have deteriorated since then.

Basic services including electricity, banking and telecoms "are being denied by the Ethiopian government", a US State Department spokesperson told AFP in September, pointing to "indications of a siege". 

The UN estimates 100 trucks of food and non-food aid must reach Tigray each day to meet needs on the ground, yet the actual number entering the region since mid-July amounts to just 15 percent of that.

Earlier this month AFP documented starvation deaths in many parts of Tigray, citing internal documents from aid groups.

Biden revokes Ethiopia trade preferences as Tigray war intensifies

  Biden revokes Ethiopia trade preferences as Tigray war intensifies President Joe Biden on Tuesday booted Ethiopia from a vital trade pact due to rights concerns as the historic US ally declared a state of emergency over rebel advances north of the capital. Authorities ordered residents of the capital to register their firearms as state-affiliated media announced a nationwide state of emergency. Feltman, the US envoy, said Washington had directly warned TPLF leaders not to advance on the capital and instead to pursue talks.

The government blames the TPLF for Tigray's aid woes, saying its incursions into Afar and Amhara have obstructed deliveries. 

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been displaced by the fighting there, raising fears that large-scale suffering may be spreading well beyond Tigray.

- What are the prospects for peace? -

Abiy's government has framed the war as an internal "law enforcement operation" and resisted mediation efforts including early appeals from high-level African Union envoys for talks with Tigrayan leaders.

In August the AU appointed former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo as high representative for the Horn of Africa as part of a drive to promote regional peace and security.

Diplomats say Obasanjo is trying to facilitate talks, but success is far from assured.

"It is hard to see these particular protagonists sitting around the table and hashing things out," said William Davison, senior Ethiopia analyst for the International Crisis Group.

"I think, depressing as it is, more and more this does look to be playing out on the battlefield."

Even if talks materialise, "it would be delusional for anyone to think that things will go back to 'normal' after so much bloodshed and destruction," said Awet Weldemichael, a Horn of Africa security expert at Queen's University in Canada.

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Ethiopia’s Abiy urges ‘sacrifices’ as US orders staff out .
PM says Ethiopians must be ready to make ‘sacrifices’ to ‘salvage’ country as conflict with Tigrayan forces deepens.The yearlong fighting between federal government troops and Tigrayan rebels, who are threatening to march on the capital, Addis Ababa, has intensified in recent days.

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