Amhara militia continue to drive Tigrayans from their homes

Amhara militia continue to drive Tigrayans from their homes

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”16″]“The western Tigray zone is occupied by the Amhara militias and special forces, and they are forcing the people to leave their homes,” Mulu Nega, head of Tigray’s government-appointed administration, told Reuters in Tigray’s capital Mekelle.[/perfectpullquote]

Source: Reuters

‘You don’t belong’: land dispute drives new exodus in Ethiopia’s Tigray

Four months after the Ethiopian government declared victory over the rebellious Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), tens of thousands of Tigrayans are again being driven from their homes.

This time, it is due not to the fighting, but to regional forces and militiamen from neighbouring Amhara seeking to settle a decades-old land dispute, according to witnesses, aid workers and members of Tigray’s new administration.

Amhara officials say the disputed lands, equal to about a quarter of Tigray, were taken during the nearly three decades that the TPLF dominated central government before Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018.

“Obviously the land belongs to the Amhara region,” Gizachew Muluneh, spokesman for the Amhara regional administration, told Reuters.

Ababu Negash, 70, said she fled Adebay, a town in western Tigray, after Amhara officials summoned Tigrayans to meetings in February.

“They said you guys don’t belong here,” Ababu told Reuters in Shire, a town 160 km to the east, to where many from west Tigray are fleeing. “They said if we stay, they will kill us.”

This fresh exodus from the west of Tigray risks exacerbating a precarious humanitarian situation in the region, with hundreds of thousands of people already uprooted by fighting. The territorial dispute is also being carefully watched by other regions in Ethiopia’s fractious federation, some with their own simmering border disputes.

Fighters from Amhara entered western Tigray in support of federal forces after the TPLF, Tigray’s then-governing party, attacked military bases there in November. They have remained ever since, and Amhara officials say they have taken back a swathe of territory that was historically theirs.

Tigrayan officials say the area has long been home to both ethnic groups and that the region’s borders are set by the constitution. Now that fighting has subsided and roads have reopened, they say there is a concerted, illegal push to drive out Tigrayans.

Reuters interviewed 42 Tigrayans who described attacks, looting and threats by Amhara gunmen. Two bore scars they said were from shootings.

“The western Tigray zone is occupied by the Amhara militias and special forces, and they are forcing the people to leave their homes,” Mulu Nega, head of Tigray’s government-appointed administration, told Reuters in Tigray’s capital Mekelle.

He accused Amhara of exploiting Tigray’s weakness to annex territory. “Those who are committing this crime should be held accountable,” he said.

Asked about the accounts of violence and intimidation by Amhara fighters, Yabsira Eshetie, the administrator of the disputed zone, said nobody had been threatened and only criminals had been detained.

“No one was kicking them out, no one was destroying their houses even. Even the houses are still there. They can come back,” he said. “There is federal police here, there is Amhara special police here. It is lawful here.”

Reuters was unable to reach Amhara police, and federal police referred questions to regional authorities.

WHOSE LAND?

Gizachew said Amhara was now administering the contested territory, reorganising schools, police and militia, and providing food and shelter. Tigrayans were welcome to stay, he said, adding that Amhara has asked the federal government to rule on the dispute and expected a decision in coming months.

He did not respond to requests for comment on the accusations of violence and intimidation by Amhara fighters.

The prime minister’s office referred Reuters to regional authorities to answer questions about the land dispute and the displacement of Tigrayans, who make up around 5% of Ethiopia’s 110 million people. There was no response from a government task force on Tigray or the military spokesman.

In a speech to parliament on March 23, Abiy defended Amhara regional forces for their role in supporting the government against the TPLF. “Portraying this force as a looter and conqueror is very wrong,” he said.

The United Nations has warned of possible war crimes in Tigray. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this month there have been acts of ethnic cleansing and called for Amhara forces to withdraw from Tigray.

Ethiopia’s government strenuously denies that it has an ethnic agenda.

“Nothing during or after the end of the main law enforcement operation (against the TPLF) can be identified … as a targeted, intentional ethnic cleansing against anyone in the region,” the foreign ministry said in a statement following Blinken’s remarks.

Reuters could not determine how many people have fled west Tigray in recent weeks as families move frequently, many stay with relatives, and some have been displaced several times.

Local authorities and the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said about 1,000 were reaching Shire every day, with 45,000 coming since late February.

The Norwegian Refugee Council said between 140,000-185,000 came from west Tigray over a two-week period in March.

‘LEAVE OR LOSE LIFE’

Tewodros Aregai, interim head of Shire’s northwestern zone, said the town was hosting 270,000 displaced people even before the latest influx and did not have enough food or shelter.

Four centres set up to house new arrivals are near-full. Families cram into classrooms, halls and half-finished buildings. Others camp under tarpaulins or on open ground.

Ababu said she and her family reached Shire at the beginning of March. She fled her farm in November, when she said Amhara regional forces killed civilians in nearby Mai Kadra after taking the town with federal forces. She said she spent three months in Adebay but was forced to leave at the end of February.

Reuters could not independently verify her account. Communications in Tigray, a mountainous region of about 5 million people, have been patchy since the conflict began and the region was off-limits for most international media until this month.

Amhara officials in Mai Kadra deny that Tigrayans were attacked there, although dozens of displaced residents provided similar accounts.

People still living in Mai Kadra told Reuters that Tigrayan youths, backed by local security forces, stabbed and bludgeoned to death hundreds of Amhara civilians the night before government forces entered the town on Nov. 10. Ethiopia’s state-appointed human rights commission said two weeks later that an estimated 600 civilians had been killed.

The 42 Tigrayans interviewed by Reuters as they fled from the west said they were now being evicted en masse.

“They (Amhara forces) circulated a paper saying, ‘If you don’t leave the area within two days, you will lose your lives’,” said Birhane Tadele, a priest from the west Tigray village of Rewasa. “Then they took all the cattle and everything in the house.”

Birhane said he fled to Humera, a town in the disputed zone, but could not stay because Amhara gunmen were rounding up people with Tigrayan IDs and imprisoning them. He now lives in a school in Mekelle.

Two other Tigrayans also described such roundups in Humera, and three described similar circulars at other locations demanding they leave. Reuters could not independently verify their accounts.

A farmer from Mylomin, a small village in west Tigray, showed Reuters scars on the stomach and back of his five-year-old son Kibrom, whom he said was shot when the Ethiopian army arrived on Nov. 9 with its Amhara allies.

The farmer, who did not want his name published for fear of reprisals, said he took the boy to Gondor hospital in Amhara. When they returned, neighbours told him Amhara gunmen had stolen his 60 cattle and other belongings. He now lives with his family in a Mekelle schoolyard.

Reuters was unable to reach officials in Mylomin for comment on his account of the fighting. Officials at Gondor hospital said they received an influx of patients with injuries from violence in early November but did not give details on specific cases.

2 Comments

  1. ዛር ዉላጅ መተታም አባይ ጠንቋይ የማይታዩት የናንተ ሠራዊቶች የሰዉ ደም የሚልሱ የሚጠጡ ዛር ዉላጆች ናቸዉ እነርሱን ነዉ የምታመልኩት አረቄ ድፋላቸዉ ስማቸዉን ጥራ ወይም አስጠራ በአራት ማዕዘን ተከበሻል ኢትዮጵያ ፈራርሳለች ላትነሳም ተቀብራለች፥ሙት አመቷን አዉጡላት ጋኔን ሰቢዎችን ጠይቁላት ቀበርቾዉን አቃጥሉላት ዳቦ ለሚሹ ሕፃናትን ቦምብ የሚያቀብል ርኩስ ፍጥረት የሚገኝባት ኢትዮጵይ የማይታዩ ረቂቃን አጋንንት ዛር ዉላጆት ከአለቃቸዉ ሳጥናኤል ጋር የተወረወሩ ርኩሳን መፍስት የሚኖሩባት ኢትዮጵይ ን የእግዚአብሔር መላዕክታት አይጎበኙዋትም አይታሰብም፤ ካፈርኩ አይመልሰኝ አያዋጣቹህም
    “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Luke 11:11 You serving bombs for kids instead of milk and bread. You will harvest what you sow mister amhara . This is a natural law!

    ignorant amhara elites are dead too.

  2. ኢትዮጵያ ፈራርሳለች ላትነሳም ተቀብራለች- Would only mean its opressive system will longer be allowed to stretch out to Tigray and Wellega and will continue be dismantled by the mighty defenders of Tigray, TDF and OLA in order to cut its roots rotted in all parts of the regions. We dnot want the system . It doesn’t mean people should fight with one another -it is asatanic action to incite violence among nations.However, these nations must be free to choose their own leaders and shouldn’t be brainwashed to maintain ethiopianism serving a cave for unitary narrow-minded , one language, one leader dreamers.

    I personally do wish the safety and security of every nation and nationality -We are brought up and nutured and taught by these all nations regardless of their native languages.I personally see, ethiopinism andthe political rivals didnot let the people to live safely . Hence, self-governing body might hold these nations united and maintain their safety .

    However, a poor nations and their newly formed government will certainly face economic challenges unless they determine to bury the hatchets and work together.

    A newly formed Oromo or Tigray state coudn’t successfully do the exchange with rich nations considering its financial capacity into account unless they consider working with developing nations who are willing to exchange and let them import goods and items. We all know unity is strength and acknowledge the pros of staying united but it shouldn’t let our weak members of the society , children and elders subjected to such kind of atrocities.

    It is better to take decision to stop the genocide now. At any ppoint in the future, you will stop it and start to hide yourself-We even tend to forget the sadest moment of our lives, death of our beloved ones let alone the death of a tribal member.

    Th idea is you will regret what you are doing now -just learn from Ruwanda_- and start to begn thinking to bury the hatchets for the sake of the remaining family members or other reason. So, stop now. Th dead will not ressurect just because you attack your neighbor. It will not change anythung at all.

    THose guys who call the other tribe will not help their tribal member when he was facing economic hardship but they tend to engage in genocide claiming to fight for their tribe. I lived in many parts of the country and I know many members of from many tribes. I have seen people killing their neighbors of the same tribe (who speak their language and probably have the same ancestors) to take his land , home and his wife . However, we see these kind of people pretend to be defenders of Amhara or Oromo or Tegaru defenders . It is just politics. With regard to ethiopianism? I will underscore the fact that Ethioipia(any country in the planet) is built by political elites . It is not created by God. WE must honor people’s lives , We die for ethipia and kill our neighbor or humanbeing ? Are you kiding or advocating for political elites ? nonesense!! Stop mocking at the lives of innocent people. I donot belive any nationality and national identity at all. We know unity could help us we can unite and protect and maitain our sovereignity but we should not let demagogues abuse our unity to maintain power. THe adage was divide and rule but I also seee unite and rule- unified ethiopia is helping politicians to supress the poor nation so as they mainatain a larger territory while not protecting their people.

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