Tue. Oct 19th, 2021

Tekley Hayley * has been so worried since November 4 that she had trouble sleeping. He announced the launch of the military operation in response to a televised speech by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abi Ahmed describing it as a “treacherous” attack on army camps in Ethiopia’s Tigris state.

The attack sparked growing tensions between the federal government and the Tigra People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which ruled the northern part of the country of about one million people.

Abby, who won the regional Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for his efforts to end two decades of frozen conflict with neighboring Eritrea, rushed to declare victory against the TPLF after government forces entered the regional capital, McClellan, in late November. But the fight has dragged on and reported Mass atrocities Keep rising, there is a risk of a Long conflict Including devastating effects on the local civilian population.

What has received less attention, however, is the plight of the ethnic relatives of Tekloy: Irob, the minority’s own distinct language who lives among the larger Tigris in the region. Leaders say that, in addition to the humanitarian damage caused by the ongoing conflict, Erob is now facing an existential crisis, with an estimated 20,000,000 people, of whom an estimated 35,000 live in the semi-arid mountainous region in the northeastern corner of Tigris bordering Eritrea.

Tekle, who lives in Addis Ababa, the capital, told Al Jazeera: “Many, probably up to 50 percent of the original population … have fled to the regional towns of Tigris and even to Addis Ababa, leaving behind mostly adults and children.”

From the first day of the conflict, the Erob district was under the full control of Eritrean forces crossing Ethiopia to support its federal forces in the fight against the TRLF.

The Eritrean government of Isis Afwarki and the TPLF, which dominated Ethiopian politics for decades before taking power three years ago, has long been at loggerheads with a complex regional, economic and political conflict that culminated in a brutal two-year war in 1999. Thousands killed.

Over the past six months the Irob district has been accessible and in the darkness of communication, Tekle has been able to get scattered information about the humanitarian situation from people fleeing south to Tigris and Addis Ababa.

“I helped organize the memorable event [in Addis Ababa] “Some of the dead are my relatives and friends,” he said. “Among the dead are a young man whose peasant father was abducted by Eritrean soldiers more than two decades ago, and never again.” Not seen. “

The 40-year-old says sanctions in the Arab region have made it “impossible to know the actual number of deaths” – but that alone does not bother him. There is also a big risk of starvation.

“The conflict started as soon as the harvest season began, already a major concern for food insecure areas,” he said.

According to leaders, Tekley and other Irobians living across Ethiopia are doing little to protect themselves, especially since the arrest of pro-Eromba Asimba Democratic Party leader Dori Assazdam earlier this year.

This means that expatriates like Firsu Hailu are among those trying to raise awareness about the plight of the Irob community.

Fisuh, deputy manager of Irob Advocacy Global Support Group, said he had received “extremely limited, but extremely destructive” information from witnesses fleeing the Irob district because of the recovery of telephone lines in major Tigris cities such as Meckel and Adigrat late last year. .

“Since the beginning of the war, Eritrean forces have carried out indiscriminate killings and shelling in the Erob regions,” Fisuh said.

“People live in panic and regular fear [a] The planned genocide and abduction of civilians by the invading forces has resulted in looting in addition to civilian property in the area. ”

Fisuh added that he had already received reports that Eritrea had appointed local administrators, adding that “the Eritrean military forces continue to terrorize, starve locals as well as force[m] Slaughtering them to feed them “.

Reports could not be independently verified.

While the Irob community, like the rest of the Tigris, has killed thousands of people and displaced nearly two million who are suffering the devastating effects of the conflict, Irob also fears that if peace ever comes, it could cost them.

Although the Ethiopian-Eritrean Border Commission (EEBC), formed after the 1999-2000 war, did not implement the decision, it handed over about one-third of the Eroti land to Eritrea. Addis Ababa unconditionally refused to apply it and called for dialogue instead. Eritrea said there was no need for negotiations and the only way to insist was on an unconditional demarcation of the border.

“If the EEBC’s decision is implemented as it is, this tiny eurob land and people will be divided into two warring nations. Fisuh argued that it would, of course, be the end of the existence of the Erob minority as an effective ethnic group.

He said his community had not yet recovered from the devastating effects of the 1998-2000 war when it struck Irob six months ago. “During the two-year border war, the Eritrean community, as it is now, was under Eritrean occupation. Eritrean forces evicted the locals and forcibly disappeared nine members of the community,” Fisuh said.

Martin Platt, a longtime observer of Horn of Africa politics, said that Eurob is probably looking at a subtle future with the division of communities speculated by the EBC, perhaps the most spectacular.

“The Iroria district is effectively connected by Eritrea, which considers it part of its territory,” he told Al Jazeera. “The connections to the rest of Ethiopia are probably clearly cut off and the humanitarian aid map shows that no one seems to have reached the region – leaving people on the brink of starvation,” Plot added.

“It’s almost as if Ethiopian Prime Minister Abi Erob has washed his hands.”

Al Jazeera reached out to Eritrea’s information ministry and Eritrea’s mission in the African Union, as well as to the Ethiopian prime minister’s office, but there was no response at the time of publication. This article will be updated after receiving a response.

* Names have been changed to protect their identities

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