People from Tigray region of Ethiopia flee to Sudan

Aljazeera | Nov 16 2020

In northern Ethiopia, the government is sending reinforcements to the restive Tigray region despite international calls for mediation. Tigray’s leader has called on the United Nations and the African Union to condemn Ethiopia’s offensive. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni met with Ethiopian ministers and urged negotiations. But the Ethiopian government says Uganda will not play any mediation role. And as the crisis continues – thousands more people are fleeing the violence into neighbouring Sudan. Some of those who arrive are suffering from health conditions – and with little aid – struggling to receive healthcare. Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan has more on the refugee crisis from Hamdayeet, near the Sudan-Ethiopia border.

conflict spills beyond borders

Over the weekend, Tigrayan forces fired rockets into the capital of neighbouring Eritrea, Asmara, escalating a conflict that threatens to destabilise the wider Horn of Africa region.

Federal forces claim to control Tigray’s western zone, where fighting has been heavy, and over the weekend said they seized the town of Alamata, south of Mekelle.

The UN, the African Union and various countries are pressing for talks, but Abiy is resisting, saying the government would only negotiate when it restored the rule of law in Tigray.

On Monday, Abiy sent his foreign minister to Uganda and Kenya to explain what the government describes as an internal conflict to leaders of those countries. Ethiopian officials said the visits do not mean negotiations are starting.

“A war in Ethiopia would give the entire continent a bad image,” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni wrote on Twitter after the meeting. “There should be negotiations and the conflict stopped, lest it leads to unnecessary loss of lives and cripples the economy.”

The Nobel Committee, which awarded its prestigious peace prize to Abiy for his efforts to heal divisions with Eritrea, said late on Monday it was “deeply concerned” over the fighting.

“there are conditions the tplf has to meet”

The federal government has so far rejected international pleas for dialogue and de-escalation.

“The TPLF raided our Northern Command, it looted our artillery and it also surrounded our soldiers and taken hostage of them,” Zadig Abraha, the Ethiopian minister in charge of democratisation, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday. “What government would possibly negotiate [after all that]?” he asked.

The minister said “there are conditions that the TPLF has to meet”, including handing over the top leadership “that are involved in the perpetration of this crime”, among others.

Gebremichael speaks on the campaign

Tigrayan leaders say 44-year-old Abiy – last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner – has persecuted and purged them from government and security positions since taking office in 2018.

Tigrayan leader Debretsion Gebremichael told the AFP news agency on Tuesday “the government and people of Tigray” would hold their ground.

“This campaign cannot be finished. As long as the army of the invaders is in our land, the fight will continue. They cannot keep us silent by military force,” he said.

Tigrayan forces might seek to dig in as the military advances into the more mountainous terrain towards Mekelle, said Matt Bryden, the founder of Nairobi-based regional think tank Sahan.

“I would guess as they [the Ethiopian army] enter the highlands, heavier fighting is likely to start,” he said.

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