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Ethiopia Peace Process Undermined as Eritrean Forces Continue Attacking Civilians

(Bloomberg) — Efforts to restore peace in Ethiopia after two years of fighting between government and rebel forces are being undermined by Eritrea, whose troops continue to attack civilians across its southern border, according to people with knowledge of the situation. 

Ethiopia Tigray region

A peace deal was signed in South Africa on Nov. 3 between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration and leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which ruled the northern Tigray region. It provides for the cessation of all hostilities and sets deadlines for both sides to decommission weapons and withdraw their fighters. 

But Eritrean troops and soldiers from Ethiopia’s Amhara region who backed Abiy in the war continue to fight on, and the targets set in the accord may not be met, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to comment. 

The conflict in a country once considered one of Africa’s most attractive investment destinations erupted after forces loyal to the TPLF, which dominated the national government for decades before it was sidelined by Abiy, attacked a federal military base. Thousands of people have died and millions of others have been left in need of food aid.

Eritrean forces killed 111 people, according to an internal report compiled between Nov. 17 and Nov. 23 by the Tigray government’s Emergency Coordination Center and seen by Bloomberg. The regional authority also reported that 103 people had been severely injured in areas still controlled by Eritrea, while 241 houses were destroyed. More than 100 camps for people displaced by the ongoing fighting were operating in the vicinity of the city of Adigrat alone, it said.  

“There are reports of extra-judicial killing of civilians, injuries, kidnapping, disappearances, destruction of houses and widespread looting by the occupying forces,” the report said.

Getachew Reda, a senior TPLF member, said on Twitter this week that Tigray forces “are doing everything to honor their part” of the peace deal but “Eritrean forces are still on a rampage, killing children and women at will, ransacking, destroying and looting property.”

Ethiopian government spokesperson Legesse Tulu and Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel didn’t respond to several text message seeking comment about the allegations.

Between Oct. 25 and Oct. 31, hundreds of civilians were taken from their homes and killed by Eritrean troops in the countryside surrounding Adwa, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the border with Eritrea, according to three of the people.

The US State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs, a key interlocutor in the peace deal, said this week on Twitter that it fully backed moves to remove foreign troops from Tigray.

Despite the ongoing violence, the World Food Programme reported last week that it had delivered 2,400 metric tons of food and 100,000 liters of fuel into Tigray since Nov. 15. Some United Nations vehicles have encountered difficulties in accessing more remote areas due to the security situation and road blocks managed by Ethiopian troops, two humanitarian officials said.

Source: Bloomber

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