Situation Report EEPA HORN No. 10 – 28 November

Europe External Programme with Africais a Belgium-based Centre of Expertise with in-depth knowledge, publications, and networks, specialised in issues of peace building, refugee protection and resilience in the Horn of Africa. EEPA has published extensively on issues related to movement and/or human trafficking of refugees in the Horn of Africa and on the Central Mediterranean Route. It cooperates with a wide network of Universities, research organisations, civil society and experts from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and across Africa.  Key in-depth publications can be accessed on the website.

Regional dimension (as confirmed per 28 November)

  • PM Abiy Ahmed has rejected dialogue with leaders of the Tigray regional government, but is willing to speak to representatives there “operating legally”. He also said that the government was committed to the “protection and security of civilians”.
  • Political advisor of the president of the regional government of Tigray, Getachew Reda, announces TPLF has appointed “a representative  who is empowered to discuss and decide with members of the AU” to seek immediate cessation of hostilities; measures for protection of civilians; unimpeded humanitarian access; Independent investigation by external parties of any alleged war crimes or violations of international law.
  • Reports from people on the ground in Eritrea that blasts were heard in Eritrea in Massawa, Dekemhare and Nefasit (11 km from Asmara). Dekemhare is the access point to the Tsorona front.
  • In Nefasit (Eritrea, near Asmara) a fuel depot was targeted, but the projectile was shot down (reports from the ground).
  • Sudan has announced that it is evacuating its citizens from the Tigray region.
  • Reports of Eritreans forced to participate in the war in Tigray as part of the indefinite obligatory national service report that they are used as ‘cannon fodder’ and human shields: “the way the battle is fought means there are many casualties and there is no time to rescue them. We were completely overwhelmed and are being shot at from both the Tigrayan side as well as from our own side”. (Arbi Harnet and various sources)
  • Somali military is fighting inside the Tigray region, according to increasing social media reports (unconfirmed).

International dimension (as confirmed per 28 November)

  • The African Union representatives met in person with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (28 Nov.). Their access to Tigray has been denied.
  • Norway will pay 27 Million Kroner in emergency aid for refugees from the conflict in Tigray and Sudan.
  • ICRC emphasizes that “civilians are not targets, ambulances are not targets, health workers are not targets and health facilities are not targets.” 
  • UNICEF urges parties to the conflict in Ethiopia to spare children from the impact of hostilities in the Tigray region: “Some 500,000 people live in Mekelle, half of them are children”.
  • UNICEF expresses concern about the safety of hundreds of humanitarian workers, who are still in Mekelle and elsewhere across Tigray.
  • Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, states that “with evidence mounting of atrocities committed on both sides, it is essential to send in international investigators now”.
  • The French Foreign minister, Jean Yves le Drian, met with Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy PM of Ethiopia, and expressed concern about the escalation of violence in Tigray and the worsening humanitarian situation in Ethiopia and Sudan.

Military situation (as confirmed per 28 November)

  • In an interview with the BBC, ICG Ethiopia analyst William Davidson said that Tigrayans will likely return to the hills and guerilla warfare once conventional resistance becomes impossible.
  • Military map shows concentration of fighting on the Tigray Eritrean border in Tigray territory.
  • Concern that the following civilian buildings in Mekelle are seen on a list of military targets: Yohannes IV Museum,  Abraha We Arsbeha Church, Dimtsi Weyane P.L.C., a news-based television and radio network, and Messebo Cement Factory, a Private Limited Company of EFFORT (Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray) group companies established 20 years ago. it is the biggest factory in the region in terms of production and job creation.

Situation refugees (as confirmed per 28 November)

  • Bombshells landed in refugee camp Adi Harush (sheltering Eritrean refugees) in Tigray  killing two or three Eritrean refugees (reported: a child and a 20-year old girl) and left 6 wounded, reported from inside the camp.
  • UNHCR reports that there are now 43.000 Ethiopian refugees in Sudan. They urgently require international assistance.
  • Journalists reported that they visited the Sudan-Ethiopia border and saw Ethiopian soldiers, confirming reports that the exit to Sudan is being blocked.
  • The number of refugees arriving in Sudan is reduced significantly, from 7000 a day to 700 a day.
  • Fears grow for the nearly 100.000 Eritrean refugees in Tigray. The UNHCR is “extremely worried” about the impact the conflict could have on them. The situation has left the UNHCR and other organisations unable to provide food and water to the overcrowded refugee camps.

Reported situation in Tigray (as confirmed per 28 November)

  • The Internet, electricity and other forms of communication remain cut in Tigray.
  • The United Nations says that it has 200 aid workers in Mekelle.
  • Satellite image on social media shows cars lined up at gas station in Mekelle, highlighting fuel shortage.

Reported situation in Ethiopia (as confirmed per 27 November)

  • The Ethiopian flag appears in pictures without the central element.
  • Disclaimer: All information in this situation report is presented as a fluid update report, as to the best knowledge and understanding of the authors at the moment of publication. EEPA does not claim that the information is correct but verifies to the best of ability within the circumstances. Publication is weighed on the basis of interest to understand potential impacts of events (or perceptions of these) on the situation. Check all information against updates and other media. EEPA does not take responsibility for the use of the information or impact thereof. All information reported originates from third parties and the content of all reported and linked information remains the sole responsibility of these third parties. Report to info@eepa.be any additional information and corrections.

Links of interest

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-55065229

https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-abiy-ahmed-ethiopia-united-nations-kenya-f497300cca1a6560c5e8ae48fde442b5

https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/horn-africa/ethiopia/avoiding-bloodbath-ethiopias-mekelle