The UN accuses Ethiopia of continuing to detain UN workers

The People’s Liberation Front of Tigray, the armed faction opposed to the Ethiopian government, announced Wednesday that it has achieved victories on multiple fronts. The Ethiopian army responded, noting that they had surrounded the Tigray fighters in the areas in which they had penetrated.

According to an email from the United Nations, Ethiopian authorities arrested more than 70 drivers working for the organization on Wednesday. The ethnicity of the drivers was not clear.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said Sunday it had received several reports of the arrest of Tigers in the capital.

On Tuesday, the United States condemned the arrests on the basis of ethnicity in Ethiopia, after Ethiopian authorities arrested 16 UN employees during raids against people in the Tigray region during the state of emergency.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that “harassment by security forces and ethnic-based arrests are totally unacceptable.”

A tank destroyed after fighting between Ethiopian forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front on the outskirts of the city of Hamira in Ethiopia (Reuters archive)

And sources from the United Nations and humanitarian agencies reported Tuesday that some 16 Ethiopian employees of the international organization were arrested in Addis Ababa during raids against people in the Tigray region during the state of emergency.

A UN spokesperson in Geneva said requests for their release have been submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Last week, the government led by Abi Ahmed declared a state of emergency in the country for a period of 6 months, amid growing fears over the advance of fighters from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Liberation Army of the ‘Oromo towards the capital, Addis Ababa. .

Humanitarian organizations, including Amnesty International, have condemned the imposition of a state of emergency that allows the search and arrest of any person suspected of supporting “terrorist factions” without a warrant.

Lawyers said random arrests of Tigrayans increased last week, affecting thousands of them.

Law enforcement officials said these arrests were part of a legitimate crackdown by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Oromo Liberation Army.

Previously, the African Union and the United States had said there was little chance of ending the fighting in Ethiopia, while the United Nations had warned that the risk of Ethiopia would plummet in a full-scale civil war was “very real”.

The African Union envoy for the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, and United Nations political coordinator Rosemary DiCarlo informed the UN Security Council.

On Monday, the US State Department also announced that Washington believes there is a small window to work with the African Union to make progress in ending the conflict with the return of the US envoy to the Horn of Africa. , Jeffrey Feltman, in Addis Ababa.

The Tigray rebels denied the possibility of a “bloodbath” in Addis Ababa if they entered to overthrow the government, stressing that their aim is not to control the capital, and that its residents “do not object with force them “.

For its part, several countries have invited their citizens to leave Ethiopia in one moment in where the conflict between the rebels and government forces in the north of the country is intensifying. On Saturday, the US government ordered its non-essential diplomats to leave Ethiopia.

After announcing last weekend that they have recaptured two strategic cities 400 km from the capital, the TPLF fighters and their allies in the Oromo Liberation Army are not ruling out advancing towards Addis Ababa.

For its part, the government has denied any rebel advances or threats to the capital. However, a state of emergency was declared and the Addis Ababa authorities asked the residents to organize themselves to defend the city.

Prime Minister of Ethiopia
Prime Minister of Ethiopia

The roots of the conflict

Interestingly, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front controlled the political and security apparatus in Ethiopia for almost thirty years, after taking control of Addis Ababa and overthrowing the Marxist military regime represented by the “Provisional Military Administrative Council” in 1991.

Abi Ahmed, who was appointed prime minister in 2018, removed the front from power and questlast retreated to his Tigray stronghold.

But after months of bickering, Abiy Ahmed sent the army to Tigray in November 2020 to expel the regional authorities of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which he accused of attacking military bases.

He declared victory on November 28, but in June the LTTE fighters recaptured much of Tigray and continued their offensive in the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara.

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