Ethiopia: Casualties mount as Tigray conflict turns into humanitarian crisis

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi Published: Nov 13, 2020, 09:11 PM(IST)

Representative Image Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The ethnic faultlines have re-emerged. There are reports of a massacre. Hundreds of civilians, hacked to death by forces loyal to the regional leadership. If these reports are confirmed, this would amount to war crimes

The war in Ethiopia has spiralled into a massive humanitarian crisis. Hundreds have been killed and many more have been displaced. Ethiopian Prime Minister is riding high on military gains while Tigray's leadership is unwilling to surrender.

"War is an epitome of hell. I know because I have been there and back," said Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed after he received Nobel Peace Prize last year.

Today, he is a wartime leader who is marching his troops into his own country. On Thursday, (November 12), Abiy claimed a major victory as his forces captured western Tigray. But this came at a high cost. The ethnic faultlines have re-emerged. There are reports of a massacre.

Hundreds of civilians, hacked to death by forces loyal to the regional leadership. If these reports are confirmed, this would amount to war crimes.

Abiy has promised a swift end to the fighting. A return to normalcy in no time. He has named a new local leader to oversee the transition.

 

"We are confident that in a relatively short period of time, we will accomplish our objectives and create a conducive environment for life to return to normalcy for our citizens in Tigray," said Ahmed.

But this is easier said than done. Tigray is a battle-hardy province. Its leader has vowed to fight till the end. Although he is putting up a brave front the Prime minister too is buckling down for the long haul.

In Addis Ababa, the government launched a civilian blood drive. Hundreds turned up to donate. The war is popular among non-Tigrayans.

But casualties are mounting. A long conflict could destabilise not just Ethiopia. But the larger, horn of Africa region.

In the early stages, Abiy claimed his feud was with Tigray's ruling party and not its people. But that's becoming increasingly hard to believe.

On Friday Ethiopian police visited a UN office in Amhara. They wanted a list of Tigrayan people working there.

Moreover, A Tigrayan official at the African Union was also fired. The order came directly from Ethiopia's defence minister. The reason? Alleged disloyalty.

The fighting in Tigray has displaced more than 14,000 people. Among them are thousands of minors. They are fleeing en masse to neighbouring Sudan.

But the country does not have the resources to host these many people. The only way Ethiopia can avoid more bloodshed is if PM Abiy relents and agrees to talks with Tigray's leadership.

The 2019 Abiy would have wanted talks. All he needs to do is listen to his own advice.

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