(Source: Africa Confidential) –
As horrendous reports emerge abuses of civilians in the embattled region, Addis Ababa admits involvement of Eritrean troops
International pressure seems to have prompted Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to declare on 26 March that Eritrean troops will withdraw from the Tigray region after reports of their involvement in serial atrocities against civilians.
Abiy has given no timeline for Eritrea’s withdrawal yet nor did he comment on reports that Ethiopian troops were involved in some of the incidents.
The admission that Eritrean soldiers had crossed into Tigray follows months of official denials. The agreement for their withdrawal has not been confirmed by President Issayas Afewerki‘s government.
Abiy’s announcement is the first shift in policy by Abiy in the face of mounting international condemnation (AC Vol 61 No 24, War resets the region).
There is still no sign of an end to fighting between Ethiopian troops and Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front which has morphed from an official ‘policing action’ by federal forces into a rumbling guerrilla war. Human rights monitors, including Ethiopia’s own commission, have reported abuses and massacres by all sides in recent weeks.
The humanitarian crisis caused by refugees fleeing the region is also becoming increasingly desperate, senior UN officials told Africa Confidential this week.
Abiy’s announcement about Eritrea’s withdrawal followed a meeting with United States Senator Chris Coons, a close ally of President Joe Biden.