Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis: Fleeing for fear of new ethnic conflict

Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis: Fleeing for fear of new ethnic conflict

By Andrew Harding
BBC News, Hamdayet, Sudan

Almost every night, a handful of young men slip across the well-guarded border, swimming across a fast-flowing brown river and trudging into Sudan to escape what they say is a sudden upsurge in ethnic violence in the far western corner of Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

(Martinplaut)–This fertile area, still held by soldiers and militias loyal to Ethiopia’s federal government, is now seen as a likely next target for Tigray’s rebel fighters, as they seek to strengthen their control over the region and secure a potentially crucial supply route into neighbouring Sudan.

The conflict in Tigray is now showing dangerous signs of transforming into a more widespread ethnic conflict that could suck in other parts of Ethiopia.

“They gave us two days to leave, or we would be killed,” said one 18-year-old Tigrayan, who’d just crossed the river with three school friends and asked for his identity to be hidden to protect relatives still living inside Ethiopia.

He accused soldiers from the nearby region of Amhara – who currently control the key border town of Humera – of targeting Tigrayan men of fighting age.

image captionThe River Sittet marks the border between Ethiopia and Sudan

There are many reports that Amhara conscripts and volunteers are now being rushed to reinforce the area, along with other militia forces from different parts of the country including Oromia and Sidama.

“The Amhara militia are going door to door. If they know you are a Tigrayan they kill or arrest you. We feel bad because it is our country. Anyone who can escape is fleeing,” said another teenager, speaking early one morning, in the isolated Sudanese border town of Hamdayet, just across the border from Humera.

The BBC spoke to eight people who’d left Humera in recent days and told similar stories of ethnic cleansing. But with phone lines inside Tigray cut, it has been difficult to seek independent confirmation.

The Ethiopian government has meanwhile indicated that it may end its unilateral ceasefire in Tigray, blaming “provocations” by the rebel forces, and appears to be mobilising more troops from different regions.

Warnings of imminent battle

Surrounded by muddy fields and now buffeted nightly by spectacular summer storms, Hamdayet has become a transit point for thousands of Tigrayan refugees – and almost certainly for rebel fighters too – who cross in and out of the town, sometimes slipping through nearby Eritrea.

The flow of refugees has slowed in recent months. It began last November, when the conflict in Tigray first erupted between forces loyal to the regional government and Ethiopia’s federal state.

BBCWar is inevitable – it is ethnic cleansing”Tewodros Tefera

Some 50,000 refugees are currently sheltering in Sudanese camps close to the border, often in grim conditions as the rainy season sets in and their makeshift tents are repeatedly broken by fierce winds. The UN refugee agency has faced growing criticism about the humanitarian situation in the camps.

Multiple security and intelligence sources in the region told the BBC that the upsurge of ethnic violence inside Tigray – particularly in and around Humera – was a sign that a major battle could be imminent. After its spectacular recent successes further south and east, the rebel Tigray Defence Forces are widely expected to try to seize all of western Tigray before the rains cut off much access.

But the town lies in disputed territory, long-claimed by ethnic Amharas, who took control of the area soon after the Tigray conflict began. The concern is that an escalating conflict here will further enflame ethnic tensions in Ethiopia, and could also fuel instability in Sudan and Eritrea.

“It’s going to go on – the war – for sure. The Amhara and the Tigrayan people used to be as brother and sister. But we are not giving up our land so the blood[shed] is going to continue,” said a bank worker and mother of two, who recently arrived in Hamdayet and asked for her name to be withheld.

“War is inevitable. There is a new surge of mass arrests [by Amhara militia]. It is ethnic cleansing. The forceful eviction of Tigrayans from western Tigray is getting intense right now,” said Tewodros Tefera, a surgeon who fled across the border into Sudan late last year, and now runs a tiny clinic serving thousands of refugees and locals in Hamdayet.

Like many Tigrayan refugees, Dr Tewodros now appears committed to the idea of a complete break from Ethiopia – full independence for Tigray.

“Thinking of being an Ethiopian now is gone. I don’t want to be in the same category with these people that have raped my sisters, that have killed by my brothers and sisters. So, the idea of [holding] the same passport is gone,” he said.

1 Comment

  1. አብ ኢዶም ክንቀሱ ክውቀጡ ነይርዎም ምልክት
    ንምንታይ ተመሊሶም እተመፁ ንምፍላይን
    ካልይ ጊዜ ክተመለሱ ከይመሀሩ
    ኣነ ብታዕሚ ሓሪረ አዚኦም ምሩካት
    ኣይኮኑን ምሩክ ዝበሃል ኣብ ኩናት
    ዝማረክ ምሩክ ይበሃል። አዞም ግን
    ህጻውንቲ ዝሓረዱ ሰበይቲ ቀሺ
    ዝተጋሰሱ ዘርከሱ ሽማግለታት
    ዝረሸኑ ዕንባባ መንህሰይ ትግራይ
    ረሺኖም ብገደል ዝወርወሩ ክሳብ
    ሕጂ መንህሰይ ትግራይ ይቅተል
    ኣሎ ሃገር ምሉእ ዘባደሙ😂🤣😂
    ብሰላም ክስደዱ ዞም ኣረመን ኣራዊት አሰያስን ኣቢን። 10/ሞት ኮይኑ ደም
    ንጹሃት ትግራይ። ዋይ ኣነ የሕዋተይ
    ዋላ ዘይርድአካ ነገር ሰሚዕና ኩናት ድውካይበለስ ሙሩኻት ምስዳድ ቱርጉሙ አንታይ ኢዩ ህዝቢ ትግራይ ረስኡ ካይ ቅደረስ ኡሱራት ምፍታሓ ጽባሕ ኑግሆ ተመሊሶም አንተመጹ አንታይ ውሕስነት አሎኹም ህዝቡኹም አፍቅዳ ካርሽሊ ተዳጉኑም ከሎዉስ አንታይ ሃዊኽኩም ዘይርድአካ ነገር። ባጣዕሚ ሓዘን ኣፍፍፍፍ ኣዘክልይ ህዝቢ ኣጣፍእም ኣዘክልይ አብ ኣደሰ ኣባባ ተእሰሮ ከሎ ሰደተኛ ተኣሰር ምኣተወ ዓዳ ሰእነሰ ልልክእ ይሰደወም ህዝቢና ፍቅድእ ፋሕ ባታና ኣሊ እግዚአብሔር ይፈርዶልክም ኣንታይ ከብ ንምንታይ ክም ዘጋድሎ ዘለዉ ጣፊእና ኣሕ :ቶምለሰኣም ኣንታጫጫፍና መን አየ ክጋደል ኣደግና ወይ ህዝቢ ትግራይ ዘርክብ ደቂ ከይኣክብኣ ደቂ ኣምቶ ይእከብ ፍቅዶ ክልልል ኣምሕራ ሰብ ሊትሕራዳ ትግራወይ ብምዃኑ አንታይ ሕዘእም አዮም ዘልቅውም ኣንታ.ህዝና ደቂ ጠፊኡ ኣሕ ከግልፅ አይእልክን ብክይት ምለእ ገፀይ ኣሕ
    ሕቶይ ግን መን እዩ ክምልሰለይ?:ንስልጣኖም እምበር ንህዝብና ኣይሓስቡን ኣሕዋትናማ ኣብ ቅድሚ ህዝቢ ኣብ ማእኸል ከተማታት ይርሽንዎም ኣለው ፍታሕና ካብ ፈጣሪትግራይ ትዕወት ትስዕር ዝበሃል የለን ንሱሙ ምስግና ዘይብሉ ፈቖዶ በረኻ ዝዋግኡ ዘለው 😢😢😢ብያንስ ምስ እዞም ኣብ እስርቤት ዝእሰሩ ዘለው ተጋሩ ፍትሑልና ክብሉ ደእኳ ንዚኦም ኣይኣስርዎሙን ትግራይ ተዋሪድኩም ደብርጽዮን ኣግዲዕኩም ሕጂ ክንደይ ስብ ብጎብን ብኩርባን 8 ወርሒ ክውርወሩ ከምዘይ ጸንሑ ሎሚ ምርኻትካ ውሰደለይ ክብል ዝተማረኩ የብለይን foto ሾፕ እዮም እንዳ በሎም ባጫ ሲ ከየእመንኩሞም ሰዲናልካ ኣለና ክትብልዎ ሲ ጠቅላል ኣይተጸበክዎን ህላውነትና ከንርጋግጽ ዳ ትብሉ ኣለኹም እምበር ህላውነትኩም ንምጥፋእ ኢኩም ተቅላጥፉ ዘለኹም

    Why can’t you use them for prisoners exchange. Many innocent Tigrians are in Ethiopian jails suffering simply for being Tigrawot. Exchange the Ethiopians POW for our brothers and sisters. It is good to be humanitarian. But it should not be at the expenses of our loved ones. Let’s bring them home

    This leadership is a Joke!!!
    “You give fighters back, to the worst enemy,,, without any Negotiation!???”
    “Too weak!!!! Political Leadership!!!!”

    ህውሓት ካብ ትግራይ ብንቅር ከይበለ ስራሕቲ ተጋሩ ውፅኢታዊ አይከውንን ፈዛዛትን
    ዘይርዱኡን እዩም

    ሓረርና እባ በዞም ሰነፍት መራሕቲ ህውሓት
    ቅጭ መምፃእቲ መመሊሶም ናተማላለሱ ስቓይ ህዝብና ከብዝሑ ዲኹም ትመልስዎም ፀላኢ ህዝቢ ትግራይ ንስኹም ኢኹም ።ኣብኡ ጠምዮም ከረፍ ዘይብሉ ካብ ትግራዋይዶ ይበልፁ እዮም ዞም የእዱግ ሕልና ዘይብሎም ፅባሕ ተመሊሶም መፅዮም ሰብና ከሳቕዩ ምኻኖም እናፈለጥኩም ትሰድዎም
    TPLF, ንስልጣኑ ክብል ንህዝቢ ትግራይ ኣብዝይሰግሩ የትዎ ኣሎ, ንዚኦም ከመይ ጌርካ ሕጂ ተፋነዎም, ላምባ ነስንስካ ምቕጻል እዩ ኔሩ.
    ክምለሱ እዮም ህዝቢ ክቐትሉ.
    ግን መንግስት ትግራይ ማዓዝ እዩ ዓይኑ ልገለፅ ኣሐዋትና ኣብ ፈቅዲኡ ባታ ላትረሸኑ ላትኣሰሩ ንስካትኩም ድማ ትለቅውም ኣለኩም እሺ ፅባሕ ንጉሆ ድማ ህዝብና ትርሽኑ ትለዉ ተይ ከምትቡሎ ኒሪኢ ኢና ትማሊ እኮ 35 ንፅሃት ኣሕዋትና ትረሺነም ኣለዉ ብጣዒሚ እየ ሓዚነ

    ጓል ትግራይ :እነሲ እዞም ሙሩካት ምስ ራእኩወም ደመይ ፍሊሑ እሕ ከመይ ጌሩ ግን ኣኪኢልኩም ብህዝብና ዝተጫወቱ ሙሩካት ደምና ዝስተይ እሕዋትና ናብ ገደል ዝወርወሩ ዓይኒኩም ናራኣየ ኣብ ቅድሚ ዓይንኩም ምሕርት ጌሩኩም ስዲድኩሞም 😢እዚኦምስ ዶስቶኦም ጌሮም ናብ ስድሮኦም ታሓዊሶም እቶም ስድራ ሙሉእ ዝሞቱከ ክምለሱ ዴም 😭ፅላእትና እሶም ዘይኮኑ እስኩም ኢኩም ኩሉ ትግራዋይ ኣብ መላዕ ዓለም ዘለኩም ንመንግስቲ ትግራይ ክንኩንኖ ኣለና ኣብ መላእ ኢትዮጵያ ዘለው ተጋሩ ብመንነቶም እናተኣሰሩን እናተሳቀዩን እናተቃተሉን መንግስቲ ትግራይግን ነዞም ዝተማረኩ ቀተልትናን ደፈርትናን ይሰዶም ኣሎ ስለዚ ንህዝብና ዘወድእ ዘሎን ዘቅትለና ዘሎን ናይባዕልና መንግስቲ ትግራይ ስለዝኮነ ዓገብ ንበሎ እዚ እዚ ሕጊ ዓለም ዶ ገለ ኢልካ ዘረባ ዋጋ የቡሉን ንሱ ንሕጊ ዝፈልጥ ሰብ እዩ ዝምልከቶ እንበር ንኢትዮጵያ ሕጊ ኣይምልከታን
    ዓብይ ጌጋ ንምሉእ ዓወት ተጋሩ ዝኮልፍ እዩ። ምኽንያቱ ተመሊሶም ናብ ዂናት ምእታዎም ዘይተርፍ እዩ። እዞም 1000 ምሩኻት ትመሊሶም ዋላ 10 ተጋሩ እንተቀቲሎም ንዓኣቶም ዓወት እዩ።
    ስለዚ መሬት ትግራይ ካብ ጫፍ ናብ ጫፍ ናጻ ክሳብ ትወጽእ ፡ ምሩዃት ኣብ ትግራይ ክተሓዙ ኣለዎም በሃሊ እየ።
    መንግስቲ ትግራይ ንውሳኔኡ ዳግማይ ግምት ክገብረሉ ይግባእ።
    ለምን ይለቀቃሉ የእነሱ ነፍስ ከማን ትበልጣለች ይህ ሁሉ መልካም ነገረ እየተደረገላቸው እነሱ ገና ሊያጠፉን እየከተቱ ነው ከሚያሳዝነኝ የትግራይ መንግስት የወራሪዎች ልጆች በነፃ ሲለቅ እነሱ ግን በጎንደርና በቆቦ በጎጃም ንፁሀን ተጋሩን በመገደልና ሬሳቸውን በጎዳና መጎተትና ማቃጠል ተያይዘውታል ለአማራ ምህረት ማድረጉ ይቁም ዋጋቸው ይከፈላቸው

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