Ethiopia civil war

This item appears on page 4 of the January 2021 issue.

In northern Ethiopia, a local militia took control of the Tigray region in October, leading to an ongoing violent civil war that has led to the deaths of hundreds of people, many of them civilians. Thousands of people have been displaced. Both sides accused the other of war crimes.

On Nov. 29, the Ethiopian government said that it had taken control of the city of Mekelle, capital of Tigray. Fighting around the city continued at press time.

The war began when the government accused the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a military group that is in charge of defense of the Tigray region and has heavy influence on the government there, of attacking a military camp. The TPLF denies that charge.

Prior to the election of Ethiopia’s current president in 2018, the TPLF was the most powerful military group allied to the federal government. Since 2018, its influence has waned outside of its home region. The president had asked the group to become part of the current government, but it refused, in part because of the government’s cooperation with neighboring Eritrea, which the TPLF considers its enemy. Missiles fired by TPLF groups in Tigray have landed in Eritrea, causing little damage and no casualties.