Ethiopia: 'People in Tigray are terrified' - DMT NEWS

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Ethiopia: 'People in Tigray are terrified'


The fate of civilians hangs in the balance as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed prepares to launch an attack on Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray region. A 72-hour ultimatum for TPLF fighters expires this Wednesday.

According to the United Nation's humanitarian spokesman Saviano Abreu, there are no humanitarian corridors in place in the Tigrayan capital of Mekele, which is surrounded by government troops. ''We haven't been able to send any supplies since the beginning of the conflict, which is due to blockage from all parties,'' Abreu told journalists. Food and fuel are getting scarce. One week of food is left for almost 100,000 Eritrean refugees inside Tigray, he said, adding that ''people in Tigray are terrified.'' Read more: Ethiopia government forces close in on Tigray capital after ultimatum Deadline approaching fast A 72-hour government deadline for Tigray forces to surrender is due to expire on Wednesday evening. The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), a political party spearheading the fighting, has rejected the ultimatum. Hundreds of people have been killed since fighting began on November 4. More than 41,000 refugees have fled to Sudan. Fisseha Rekle, a researcher based in Nairobi for the Ethiopian chapter of the human rights organization Amnesty International, stressed that half a million people live in Tigray's regional capital, Mekele. ''We are really worried if artillery is deployed, there will be an increase in casualties,'' Rekle told DW. He called on both sides to abide by international treaties protecting civilians in conflict areas. Colonel Shuma Obsa, head of the Joint Logistics Main department of the Ethiopian Defense Forces, told DW that due diligence would be enforced to protect civilians in case of an offensive against Mekelle.

But worries over civilians' fate may not be assuaged as details emerge of a massacre of at least 600 people on November 9 in Mai-Kadra in the northern Tigray region. A local youth group aided by soldiers and militias has been accused of carrying out the killings. The number was confirmed by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission spokesperson, Aaron Masho, as he revealed in an interview with DW preliminary conclusions of an on-site investigation carried out between November 14 and 19. ''The evidence we gathered indicates that ethnic Amharas were profiled, identified, and targeted in premeditated attacks.'' This, the commission believes, could amount to ''war crimes and crimes against humanity,'' Masho said. While Amnesty International has confirmed the occurrence of a massacre, an independent verification of the Addis Ababa human rights commission's claims is made difficult by the suspension of phone and internet connections and tightly controlled accesses to the region by the military.


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