Ethiopia: dozens of civilians killed in airstrikes in Tigray

Dozens of civilians were killed in airstrikes in the warring Tigray region in northern Ethiopia last week, the UN humanitarian agency said on Thursday (December 30th).

Airstrikes carried out between December 19 and 24 have “Caused massive civilian casualties, with dozens of people reportedly killed, making it the most intense series of airstrikes and heaviest casualties reported since October”, said the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha).

The strikes hit the towns of Alamata, Korem, Maychew, Mekoni and Milazat in southern Tigray, as well as the regional capital Mekele, Ocha said, without giving further details on the source of the information.

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“Due to limited access and insecurity in the region, humanitarian partners have not yet been able to verify the exact number of victims”, the agency added. According to Ocha, the situation remains “Tense and unpredictable” in northern Ethiopia, where humanitarian aid agencies scramble to get food and other essentials to people in need.

No humanitarian aid truck has been able to enter Tigray since December 14, according to the agency, which points to security concerns. “A total of 1,338 trucks have entered the region since July 12, which is less than 12% of the aid needed to meet the scale of humanitarian needs. “

Withdrawal of the rebels

The conflict has claimed thousands of lives and caused a serious humanitarian crisis, forcing more than two million people to flee their homes, according to the UN. War erupted in November 2020 when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to Tigray to overthrow the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), accusing its fighters of attacking army camps and defying his authority.

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He promised a quick victory, but the TPLF took the army away, retaking most of Tigray in June before advancing into neighboring Afar and Amhara regions. A few weeks ago, the rebels claimed they were only 200 kilometers from the capital Addis Ababa, sparking concern from foreign governments who urged their citizens to leave Ethiopia as soon as possible.

But last week, the rebels announced their withdrawal to Tigray, a new turning point in the war. In the process, the Ethiopian government assured that its soldiers would not advance further in this region, hoping for a truce to allow the opening of negotiations and obtain a ceasefire, which the international community has been demanding for months. .

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The World with AFP

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Ethiopia: dozens of civilians killed in airstrikes in Tigray