This week, people worldwide received news of what has been occurring in Ethiopia’s Tigray from witnesses fortunate enough to escape the fighting. Since the conflict began, hundreds of people have died, and the war threatens to destabilize other parts of Ethiopia. Numerous people have fled Ethiopia into Sudan, looking for safer shelter, and nearly half the refugees arriving in Sudan have been children.
How the War in Ethiopia’s Tigray Began
Since the war began, Ethiopian troops and the Tigrayan troops have had ugly confrontations that occasionally turn out disastrous. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front formed a regional government of their own, which angered the Ethiopian government. The Ethiopian Prime Minister felt disrespected and demanded the Tigray movement dissolve their government. However, the Tigray leaders refuted the idea and promised to protect their territory. To defend their so-called territory, the Tigray leaders resulted to stealing equipment belonging to the Ethiopian Military.
Using the equipment, the Tigray fighters launched numerous attacks in the Tigray region, mainly targeting the Ethiopian troops and even Eritrea. Last year the Tigrayan forces in the region fired rockets at an airport in Eritrea’s capital. A Tigrayan leader confirmed that they attacked as Eritrea had sent tanks and thousands of soldiers into Tigray to support the Ethiopian government offensive. Their actions worried many as they feared that the Eritrean government would join in the fighting as they suffered an attack.
Ethiopia’s government feared that the attack might cause a wider war at the borders. The government believed that if Eritrea involved itself in the conflict, then it could, in turn, draw in Sudan. If Sudan then got involved, the assumption was that Egypt would also get involved. An Eritrean official, however, stated in a report that Eritrea was not immersed in the conflict. But this week, most of those who have escaped the war in Tigray confirm that Eritrean troops are involved in the fighting.
The U.S asks Eritrean Fighters to Leave
Witnesses estimate the numbers of Eritrean soldiers in the Tigray region to be in the thousands. The witnesses accuse the soldiers of looting, sexual violence, assaults in refugee camps, and other human rights abuses. Additionally, the refugees claim the Eritrean soldiers forcibly returned Eritrean refugees from Tigray to Eritrea. One witness account revealed the soldiers focused on taking anything of value, even diapers. On the road, trucks full of boxes could be seen with addresses to places in Eritrea. Even worse, the Eritrean soldiers went house-to-house, killing Tigrayan men and boys, some as young as seven. The soldiers didn’t allow for burials of the men and children to take place, and they would kill anyone for crying or even trying to bury someone.
The U.S government has asked all Eritrean soldiers to leave Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region immediately because of such witness accounts. The Tigray region’s fighting has lasted for more than three months now, and the U.S seeks an immediate end to the fighting. The United States also asks the Ethiopian government to allow for safe and unhindered humanitarian access to the region. Ethiopia’s Tigray region remains largely cut off from the outside world, with Ethiopian forces often accompanying aid.