As the death toll rises and the humanitarian crisis worsens in Ethiopia, the struggle between the government and its Eritrean allies and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) drags on.
There were reportedly thousands of civilian casualties during the war’s 13 months, with 400,000 people in Tigray fearing famine and 9.4 million in the northern region in need of food aid.
War Fever Surges in Ethiopia as Its Civil War Spreads
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently observed, ” ‘Nowhere in the world are we witnessing hell like in Tigray. He further mentioned that since July of 2021, the World Health Organization had not been allowed to ship any medicines or treatments into the Tigray region.
Doctors were utilising old medications and their stock was also getting exhausted. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Army Lieutenant Colonel, issued amnesty to several prominent Tigrayan politicians who had been detained over the course of the previous year and proposed a national conversation.
Bekele Garba, Jawar Mohammed, and the proprietor of a media company were among those granted amnesty, along with opposition party leader Eskinder Nega. Abraha Desta, a former member of the federally appointed Tigrayan administration and a TPLF opponent, was released as well.
As a result of these developments, the UN Secretary General expressed cautious optimism that the Ethiopian government would consider making a political deal to end the war.
War may be Temporarily Halted
Some American Administration officials have also suggested that the war may be temporarily halted if both sides were willing and able to take advantage of the current situation.
The TPLF leadership had also requested that the United Nations establish an arms embargo against Ethiopia and Eritrea and a no-fly zone over Tigray to prevent hostile aircraft from entering the region, as well as a verification mechanism to ensure that all foreign armed forces had withdrawn from the region. And they wanted Abiy out, too.
For his part, Abiy kept leading his troops to victory on the front lines against the TPLF, as he had vowed he would do. After meeting with the PM and TPLF leaders in November 2020, former US Special Envoy Jeffery Feltman warned that a “alarming” escalation in military actions in Ethiopia threatened to derail the “nascent progress” made toward getting all parties into ceasefire negotiations.
In a phone call on January 11th, US Vice President Biden urged election winner Abiy to “accelerate efforts toward a negotiated truce” and allow humanitarian aid into all parts of the nation. At least 17 individuals, including women and children, were killed in the airstrike that was the first ground response by the Ethiopian government.
At least 17 people were killed and dozens more were injured when missiles struck a wheat mill in Mai Tsebri, in the Tigray province, later that day. The Ethiopian government had just called for “national healing” hours before the attacks began.
56 Civilians were Murdered in an Air Strike in Northwest
After 56 civilians were murdered in an air strike in northwest Tigray, relief organisations halted their work in the area. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military campaign in the country’s northern Tigray area on November 4, 2020.
He hoped to defeat the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, his most formidable opponent, and he accused them of attacking army barracks, sparking the conflict. With his 2018 election as Prime Minister, the TPLF’s nearly three-decade rule of Ethiopia came to an end. According to Abiy, the TPLF is trying to maintain control over the country.
In response, the Tigrayan government strongly disputed any such goal and instead accused Abiy of seeking to centralise authority at the expense of the country’s regions. But in June 2021, despite the PM’s assurances of a speedy campaign, the government’s army suffered a catastrophic defeat, and the battleground shifted to the south.
By June, the TPLF had retaken the majority of Tigray and was expanding into the neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions. At the end of October 2021, rebels from the Tigray region took control of two towns in the vicinity of Addis Ababa. The government has declared an emergency and urged people to stock up on weapons.
Other Countries Urged their Citizens to Leave Ethiopia
Fears that the TPLF forces might march on the capital Addis Ababa The United States, France, Britain, and other countries urged their citizens to leave Ethiopia out of concern that Tigrayan forces would march on Addis Ababa. By the end of November 2021 things had shifted on the ground.
The provision of armed drones apparently by Turkey, the UAE, China and Iran helped the government troops not only to stop any advance by the TPLF on Addis Ababa but compelled them to flee from the northern Amhara and Afar provinces.
Statements that TPLF forces were withdrawing voluntarily to promote a peaceful environment were deemed false by the administration.