Europe External Programme with Africa is 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.

Military situation (as confirmed per 15 December)

  • Reported that fighting in Tigray is ongoing in Hagere Selam, between Wukro and Adigrat, Samre, Dogu’a and Kolla Tembien, May Tsemre, and around Maychew.
  • Ethiopian Government forces say they seized 140 trucks filled with explosives and military supplies.
  • Experts analysing satellite pictures believe it may be likely that thousands of households are affected by plots and homesteads having been burnt.
  • Systematic ethnic cleansing reported by an observer on the ground, reporting ghost towns in Tigray.

International dimension (as confirmed per 15 December)

  • President Hamdok of Sudan, chair of IGAD, announces an emergency meeting of IGAD.
  • Hamdok, during his visit to Addis Ababa, was accompanied by Sudanese security officials, and reportedly planned “to present his concerns about threats to Sudan’s security along its border with Tigray” during the visit to Addis Ababa. The visit was cut short.
  • President Bihi from Somaliland to visit Nairobi at the invitation of Kenyan President Kenyatta. Expectation that Kenya could offer Somaliland recognition.
  • Catholic Church and elders in Eritrea have asked Eritreans not to purchase (cheap) goods originating from Tigray. This follows after many reports of heavy plundering in Tigray, especially by Eritrean forces. Many of these were transported to Eritrea.
  • Goods looted from Tigray are stocked outside of Asmara, in Ashagolgol:  a military area.
  • Eritreans in diaspora state that relatives in Eritrea are forced to march in front of Ethiopian forces and are sandwiched between Tigray and Ethiopian federal allied forces in a war that is not theirs. Due to the indefinite national service they are forced to join the war involuntary.
  • The United States has rescinded the designation of state sponsor of terrorism for Sudan.
  • The UN Security Council has met to discuss the conflict in Tigray. The conversation was initiated by Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, the US, and the UK.
  • At the UN SC, Belgium expressed its concern over the situation in Ethiopia and called for respect for humanitarian law and unhindered access of humanitarian workers to all areas.
  • At the UN SC, Germany called for full and immediate humanitarian access in light of food shortages and “immense suffering”. Safety of humanitarian workers is paramount.
  • The UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect offer its support to Ethiopia to address hate speech and prevent incitement to violence in the country.

Human Rights (as confirmed per 15 December)

  • Eritrean refugees that were forced to return to camps in Tigray have not arrived yet, despite having left Addis Ababa 3 days ago. They seem to have disappeared without communication.
  • Ethnic profiling: Human Rights Watch reports that impact of conflict in Tigray is felt throughout Ethiopia by Tigrayans, including discrimination, arbitrary detentions, house searches, work suspensions and restrictions to travel.

Situation refugees (as confirmed per 15 December)

  • 1,000 Ethiopian refugees are living in extremely difficult conditions in Eastern Sudan. There are numerous difficulties with transportation of basic supplies such as food and water.
  • Eritrean refugees under international protection in four camps in Tigray report they were shot at by Eritrean and Ethiopian troops.
  • A female Eritrean refugee has died at Adi Harush camp, and two minors injured in the war.
  • The Ethiopian government has rejected exit visas for 10 Eritrean refugees who completed all steps for relocation through IOM to Canada.

Reported situation in Tigray (as confirmed per 15 December)

  • Telephone lines to Mekelle (only) reinstated, but no internet, electricity, water, food.
  • Further reports emerging of civilians killed in shelling of Mekelle. Al Jazeera published an account of a doctor in Mekelle during November. He witnessed 16 civilian deaths during the airstrikes on 28 Nov.
  • Massacre reported on social media in which youth were killed whilst they were protecting the Saba leather factory and businesses against looting.
  • No reliable information has been received about the fate of the Catholic Bishop Tesfaselassie Medhin and his priests from the Eparchy of Adigrat, Tigray, since the start of conflict.
  • Professors and students at Mekelle University remain without communication.

Reported situation in Ethiopia (as confirmed per 15 December)

  • The Ambassador of Ethiopia to the EU has said that the lack of communication with Tigray was due to a cyberattack. She has since then retracted this statement and said instead that it was sabotage to the broadcasting station in Mekelle.
  • 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://taz.de/Krieg-in-Aethiopien/!5736994/

https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/whatsinblue/2020/12/ethiopia-tigray-discussion-of-the-humanitarian-situation-under-any-other-business.php