Ethiopian government troops push towards Tigray capital, rebuff mediation

Elias Hubbard
November 22, 2020

Since the early hours of November 4, the Ethiopian government has been undertaking military operations against the The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) over the electoral decisions.

More than two weeks into Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's offensive, his government said Tigrayan forces were digging in and using bulldozers to plough up roads around the regional capital Mekelle, home to about half a million people.

The army of Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki "inflicted heavy casualties on innocent civilians in Adigrat", the TPLF's communications bureau said in a statement on Facebook. The TPLF had said on Friday its forces were making progress on the southern and northern fronts.

Hundreds of people are reported to have been killed in the conflict in Africa's second most populous country, while tens of thousands have fled the fighting, crossing to neighbouring Sudan.

The Ethiopian government is now pushing its military further into the region to topple rebel forces following an eruption of violence on 4 November.

Assertions on all sides have been hard to verify because internet and phone links to the region have been down since the conflict broke out on November 4.

The envoys are Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique; Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, former Liberian President, and Kgalema Motlanthe, former President of South Africa.

"News circulating that the [African Union] envoys will be travelling to Ethiopia to mediate between the Federal Government and TPLF's criminal element is fake", Ethiopia's government tweeted on Saturday. The rebels say Abiy's government has marginalised and persecuted Tigrayans since taking office two years ago.

The Tigray region has been facing a rebellion since earlier this month.

A hint of the devastation can be seen in satellite images provided to by commercial space company Maxar Technologies (NYSE:). Tigrayan authorities say 100,000 people have been displaced, and the United Nations has warned that an additional 1.1 million people may need aid.

"The AU Chairman's Office also said President Ramaphosa has expressed his gratitude to His Excellency Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for accepting this initiative, and affirming the cooperation of the Ethiopian government in facilitating the work the Special Envoys". Abiy's parents are from the larger Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups.

The UN Refugee Agency estimated that up to 200,000 people could take refuge in eastern Sudan in the coming six months if instability in Tigray continues, Dujarric said. "Citizens of the cities and towns under Federal command in the Tigray region are already easing into the regular routine with the protection of the Federal Police", it reads.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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