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Ethiopia arrests more than 12 local staff of the UN mission

More than 12 Ethiopian employees of the international organization were arrested in Addis Ababa during raids targeting people from Tigray region, according to sources in the United Nations and humanitarian agencies.

One of the sources said: “Some of them were arrested from their homes,” while a UN spokeswoman in Geneva said requests for their release had been submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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

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

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

Law enforcement officials stated that these arrests were part of a legitimate crackdown on the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front and the Oromo Liberation Army.

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

The African Union’s envoy for the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, and the United Nations Political Coordinator, Rosemary DiCarlo, briefed the UN Security Council.

A destroyed tank after fighting between Ethiopian forces and the Tigray People's Liberation Front on the outskirts of the town of Hamira in Ethiopia

A destroyed tank after fighting between Ethiopian forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front on the outskirts of the town of Hamira in Ethiopia

From the forces of the Tigray Liberation Front

Speaking from Ethiopia, Obasanjo said that by the end of the week “we hope to have a program that shows” how they can allow humanitarian access and a troop withdrawal that satisfies all parties. The United Nations estimates that 400,000 people in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia are living in famine-like conditions after a year of war.

“All these leaders here in Addis Ababa and in the north individually agree that their differences are political and require a political solution through dialogue,” Obasanjo told the 15-member Security Council.

But Obasango stressed that “the chance we have is slim and the time is short.”

Abi Ahmed

Abi Ahmed

On Monday, the US State Department also announced that Washington believed there was 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, to Addis Ababa.

On Monday, the African Union held a closed meeting to discuss the crisis.

‘Bloodbath’ warning

The rebels of Tigray region denied the possibility of a “bloodbath” in Addis Ababa if they entered it to overthrow the government, stressing that their goal is not to control the capital, and that its residents “do not strongly oppose them.”

For its part, several countries have called on their nationals to leave Ethiopia at a time when the conflict between the rebels and government forces in the north of the country is escalating. On Saturday, the US government ordered its non-essential diplomats to leave Ethiopia.

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

For its part, the government denied any advance by the rebels or a threat to the capital. However, it declared a state of emergency and the Addis Ababa authorities asked residents to organize themselves to defend the city.

The origin of the conflict

It is noteworthy that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front controlled the political and security apparatus in Ethiopia for nearly thirty years, after it took control of Addis Ababa and overthrew the Marxist military regime represented by the “Interim Administrative Military Council” in 1991.

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

But after months of quarrels, 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 most of Tigray and continued their offensive in the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhar

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