Fears are growing that Ethiopian air force pilots, detained because they are Tigrayan, will be sent to Eritrea.

Members of the Tigrayan diaspora are increasingly concerned that members of their family, who were picked up earlier this month, may be sent to Asmara.

Betty, whose brother, Colonel Mulugeta Welederufael, is among the detained says she is deeply worried about him. “I am feeling lost and shaking. I can’t feed my six months old baby because I am so worried. My husband can’t go to work.”

Colonel Mulugeta is among a number of senior Ethiopian air force pilots whom his sister says are being held hostage at Hawassa University in Yirgalem. “I spoke to him on 2 November, and he told me that I can’t stay in Addis any more: it is not safe,” Betty says.

He is among around 5,000 Tigrayans who are reported to be being held at the University. “My brother felt he would be safer if he was together with others at the University, but we can’t contact him – he had to leave his mobile phone behind,” Betty tells me.

A list of Ethiopian air force personnel threatened with deportation to Eritrea has been posted on social media by Dade Desta @DadeDesta.

He wrote: “In apparent move to undermine Ethiopia’s post-Abiy air force capability, Eritrea has asked him to hand it over 16 detained Tigrayan air force officers that have been detained since 2020 at the start of z war on Tigray. Fear is Abiy might comply with the treasonous demand.”

Ethiopia’s detailed pilots

To this list can be added another name:
Captain Mebrahtom Kiros Kelele.