Published: Sat, November 21, 2020

Ethiopian army marches on 'treasonous' Tigray region as ethnic conflict worsens

Ethiopian army marches on 'treasonous' Tigray region as ethnic conflict worsens

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, last year's Nobel Peace Prize victor, announced 4 November he had ordered military operations in Tigray in a dramatic escalation of a long-running feud with TPLF, the northern region's ruling party.

An Ethiopian woman who fled war in the Tigray region, carries her food ration as others queue at the Um-Rakoba camp on the Sudan-Ethiopia border in Al-Qadarif state, Sudan, November 19, 2020.

A regional communications official, Gizachew Muluneh, said the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) fired three rockets but that they resulted in neither casualties nor damage.

"I live under this tree and sleep on the dirt", he said.

Bahir Dar, Amhara's lakeside capital, is hundreds of kilometres from the fighting in Tigray.

"President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged parties to the internal conflict in Ethiopia to find peaceful means to end the crisis", the Kenyan presidential office said in a statement on Monday.

"We are going to be calling for an initial $50 million to start this response, which will most likely increase over time, and especially into 2021, and raise to about $200 million", said Bisschop.

Axel Bisschop, the representative in Sudan for UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, said that while it was impossible to say how many people would flee across the border, if between 2,000 and 4,000 were coming daily, it had to prepare for up to 200,000. "The new planning figure is around 200,000".

"This could unravel Ethiopia and also Sudan", the UNICEF country representative in Sudan, Abdullah Fadil, said of the crisis.

"Our serious concern is if we do not act quickly with the resources needed ... this could unravel not only Ethiopia but also Sudan", he told the same briefing.

Abiy, who won the Nobel Peace Prize past year for a peace pact with neighbouring Eritrea, has said he wants to remove the TPLF leaders before talking.

He added that said some people are arriving injured and many are highly distressed, having witnessed extreme violence back home. The TPLF accuses him of pursuing a vendetta against former officials. Eritrea made peace with Ethiopia in 2018, earning Mr. Abiy the Nobel Peace Prize.

The TPLF on Friday accused government forces of an attack on the university in Mekele injuring an unspecified number of students.

On Nov 4, Abiy said the TPLF had attacked two federal military camps in the region, crossing a "red line".

A week ago, Tigray forces fired rockets at two airports in Amhara. Since then, his controversial campaign has seen warplanes bombing Tigray and heavy fighting, while Amnesty International has documented a gruesome massacre. Many fled with nothing except what they had with them and then had to walk for hours and cross a river to seek safety in Sudan.

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