The Irish Times view on war in Tigray: Ethiopia must call halt

Eritrea Ethiopia Tigray
(Source: The Irish Times) –

Credible reports paint a dire picture killings, rapes and other atrocities against civilians

People gather to mourn the victims of a massacre allegedly perpetrated by Eritrean Soldiers in the village of Dengolat, North of Mekele, the capital of Tigray on February 26th. Photograph: Eduardo Soteras/ AFP via Getty Images
People gather to mourn the victims of a massacre allegedly perpetrated by Eritrean Soldiers in the village of Dengolat, North of Mekele, the capital of Tigray on February 26th. Photograph: Eduardo Soteras/ AFP via Getty Images

Internal US government reports, and credible reports from Amnesty International and the Associated Press paint a dire picture of atrocities against civilians, killings and rape, looted villages and ethnic cleansing in Tigray, the war-torn region in northern Ethiopia.

Both parties to the conflict, which broke out when Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a surprise military offensive on the country’s northern region in November, are blamed for the violence. On the one hand, the Ethiopian army, allegedly assisted by irregular troops from the neighboring Amhara region and Eritrea. On the other, the indigenous forces of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

At least 4.5 million people in the region also urgently need food aid, but the UN complains that humanitarian access has been severely restricted It estimates that 521,200 have been displaced by the fighting and 61,0011 have sought safety in eastern Sudan. Irish Aid in December gave €2.4 million to relief agencies working in the area.

Abiy’s government blames the TPLF which effectively ran the country as a police state for 30 years and has resented being sidelined since the prime minister’s government came to power in 2018 . An attack by the TPLF on a military base was used as an excuse for the government offensive. Abiy says that he wants to unify the country by minimising the autonomy of regional governments. But Tigray has openly resisted, and other regions and ethnic groups are also uneasy with his push for centralisation.

On Friday in response to the Amnesty report on a massacre in the holy city of Axum, Abiy’s office said it was ready to collaborate in an international investigation into atrocities in Tigray. But international pressure on Addis to withdraw troops must also be escalated. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned of ethnic cleansing and insisted on humanitarian access, and the EU has already suspended €90 million in aid to Ethiopia. Foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has warned of possible war crimes and that the crisis is “unsettling” the entire region.

 

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