The civil war in Ethiopia, sparked by a conflict in the Tigray region, is getting worse

Eritrea Ethiopia Tigray

(Source: UN Dispatch, By Mark Leon Goldberg, 08 March 2021) –

© UNHCR/Hazim Elhag – Ethiopian refugees fleeing clashes in the country’s northern Tigray region, rest and cook meals near UNHCR’s Hamdayet reception centre after crossing into Sudan.

In early November a civil war broke out in Ethiopia. The conflict pitted the federal government and its allies against the regional government of Tigray.

Tigray is in northern Ethiopia and borders both Eritrea and Sudan. For decades a political party from Tigray, known as the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, was the dominant force in Ethiopian politics. The TPLF was essential the Ethiopian government from the early 1990s. That was until 2018, when the current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power.  He is not of the TPLF, and as prime minister has taken certain actions that the TPLF perceived as hostile to their interests.

Tensions had been simmering for many months and came to a head in September when Tigray held regional elections, which the federal government deemed illegal. On November 4th 2020 armed conflict broke out between federal government military forces stationed in the capitol of Tigray and TPLF armed forces.

Since then the fighting has gotten worse and the humanitarian impact for people living in Tigray has been catastrophic. Exact figures about the number of people killed and displaced by fighting are hard to come by because the region has been more or less off limits for the media. Humanitarian aid agencies have had their movements severely restricted.

There have been many reports of mass atrocities and possible ethnic cleansing. The most recent of such reports was issued by Amnesty in late February, which found evidence of hundreds of Tigray civilians killed by the Eritrean military.

And it is with a discussion of that event that I kick off this interview with William Davison, a senior analyst for Ethiopia for International Crisis Group. We then discuss how and why this conflict started, and where it may be headed next.

Listen Here or follow the links to download the episode to your device and listen later. 


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