CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

Filters

Africa

Eritrea

Ethiopia’s efforts to settle Tigray-Amhara territorial dispute continued to fuel security concerns in Asmara.

Ethiopia-Eritrea relations remained riddled with tensions. Amid concern in Asmara that Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) may return to administer Western Tigray Zone in Ethiopia, Tigray region’s interim VP Tadesse Worede 2 May said federal efforts to dissolve local Amhara administrations and resettle displaced persons in disputed areas – part of Addis Ababa’s plan to settle Tigray-Amhara territorial dispute  would be completed by late June. Ethiopia’s ruling Prosperity Party and TPLF 15 May convened third round of party-to-party political dialogue in Tigray’s capital Mekelle as part of efforts to address political issues underlying conflict in Tigray, deepening Asmara’s fears that Ethiopia’s PM Abiy may be consolidating alliance with TPLF. 

U.S. bodies criticised Eritrea’s human rights record. Embassy of Eritrea to U.S. 2 May dismissed as “fallacious” U.S. State Department’s 2023 Human Rights Report published late April, which documented “significant human rights issues” in Eritrea. U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom 13 May said religious freedom conditions remain “extremely poor” in Eritrea, urged U.S. President Biden to pressure Asmara to end persecution of unregistered religious communities and release religious prisoners.

In another important development. Eritrea 24 May celebrated 33 years of independence with official gathering in capital Asmara. Anniversary gave rise to scuffles between pro-regime and anti-regime Eritreans living abroad, leaving one killed and several wounded 27 May in Israel’s Tel Aviv city.

Africa

Eritrea

African Union (AU) confirmed Eritrea is controlling territory in Ethiopia’s Tigray region; Asmara strengthened ties with Moscow and Beijing.

AU confirmed Eritrean presence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. AU monitoring team 4 April confirmed Eritrean control over part of Zalambessa town in Ethiopia’s East Tigray Zone, though Eritrea continued to reject claims it is occupying Ethiopian territory. Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s dismantling of Amhara-established administrations in Ethiopia’s north – part of its plan to tackle Tigray-Amhara territorial dispute – could strain relations with Eritrea given alleged ties between Amhara nationalist militias known as Fano (who have been fighting insurgency in Ethiopia) and Asmara (see Ethiopia). 

Eritrea bolstered ties with Russia and China. Russian Pacific fleet late March-early April visited Massawa port, marking growing defence partnership between two countries; Russian delegation led by deputy commander-in-chief of Russian navy, Vice Admiral Vladimir Kasatonov, 1 April met Eritrean army officials, 5 April met President Isaias Afwerki to discuss enhancing bilateral ties. Isaias 7 April met China’s Special Envoy to Horn, Xue Bing, and discussed expansion of economic cooperation.

Africa

Eritrea

Asmara rejected UN human rights official’s accusation it maintains troops in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, and President Isaias Afwerki hosted his Somali counterpart amid deepening bilateral ties.

Govt denied maintaining troop presence in Ethiopia. Ministry of Information 15 March rejected late Feb statement from UN Assistant Sec-Gen for Human Rights Ilze Brands Kehris to Human Rights Council, in which she accused Asmara of maintaining troops in Tigray, where they have committed human rights violations; Asmara accused official of “parroting” disinformation of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (ruling party in Ethiopia’s Tigray region) and denied maintaining troop presence in Tigray. 

Eritrea and Somalia strengthened relations. Somali President Mohamud 17-18 March visited capital Asmara in second trip to country since Ethiopia 1 Jan signed Memorandum of Understanding with Somaliland to build naval port. He and President Isaias Afwerki 17 March discussed issues including bilateral relations, counterterrorism and regional affairs as pair sought to deepen ties, possibly to counter Ethiopia’s regional ambitions.

Africa

Eritrea

Fresh reports of Eritrean forces in Ethiopia’s Tigray region surfaced, and President Isaias Afwerki held talks with Italian officials during extended stay.

Ethiopia-Eritrea relations remained strained. News agency Associated Press 2 Feb revealed memo prepared late Jan by Ethiopia Health Cluster – international, local organisations and UN agencies coordinating health responses for people affected by humanitarian emergencies – alleging that Eritrean troops have abducted farmers and stolen hundreds of livestock in Ethiopia’s Tigray region; Eritrea’s information minister Yemane Gebremeskel same day denied allegations. Meanwhile, performance during nationally televised celebration marking 34th anniversary of Massawa city’s capture from Ethiopia 10 Feb implicitly mocked Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed, in further sign of deteriorating relations with Addis after Abiy vowed to restore Ethiopia’s sea access; Eritrea viewed remarks as threat to its sovereignty.

In other important developments. After attending Italy-Africa summit late Jan in Italy’s capital Rome, President Isaias extended stay until 8 Feb, holding meetings with investors and Italian officials, including PM Meloni and Defence Minister Guido Crosetto; Information minister Yemane 3 Feb said discussions focused on strengthening economic cooperation and security in Red Sea region. Isaias 24-27 Feb visited Egyptian capital Cairo for talks on bilateral cooperation and regional security.

Africa

Eritrea

President Isaias met with Somali counterpart amid heightened tensions over Ethiopia-Somaliland memorandum of understanding.

Ethiopia and Somaliland 1 Jan signed memorandum of understanding that would allow Ethiopia to develop naval base along coast of Somaliland; Hargeisa said deal includes recognition of Somaliland’s independence, though Addis Ababa’s commitment to this step appears tentative (see Ethiopia, Somaliland). Announcement ratcheted up regional tensions. Mogadishu, which views Somaliland as part of Somalia’s territory, 2 Jan called agreement an “act of aggression” and began rallying regional allies in order to exert pressure on Addis Ababa to halt deal (see Somalia). Notably, Somali President Mohamud 8 Jan met with President Isaias in capital Asmara. Mohamud next day claimed Isaias supported “the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Somalia”; Asmara issued no official statement but is widely expected to side with Mogadishu on issue amid deteriorating relations with Ethiopia. 

Africa

Eritrea

23rd anniversary of Algiers Agreement with Ethiopia passed amid deteriorating bilateral relations.

12 Dec marked 23 years since Ethiopia and Eritrea concluded Algiers Agreement to establish peace and demarcate common border. U.S. and UK issued statements urging sides to honour their commitments under deal and emphasising respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and pursuit of regional peace and stability. Anniversary came amid deteriorating bilateral relations, however, fuelled by competing ambitions and unresolved grievances; Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed’s Oct comments on access to Red Sea port exacerbated mistrust. Rising tensions have increased prospect of slide toward war, though unlikely in near term given both countries’ weakened militaries and war-ravaged economies. Meanwhile, clashes 30 Dec erupted in UK capital London between supporters and opponents of Isaias’ govt, with supporters reportedly calling on Eritrean community to prepare for another war with Ethiopia; police intervened, said four officers were injured in violence.

Africa

Eritrea

Asmara defended its role in Ethiopia’s Tigray war, and President Isaias attended Saudi Arabia-Africa summit.

Asmara defended involvement in Tigray war. On first anniversary of peace deal between Ethiopian govt and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Asmara 2 Nov defended its involvement, saying it was compelled to enter war amid alleged TPLF plans to invade Eritrea, overthrow govt and expand its territory. Minister of Information Yemane Gebremeskel same day accused U.S. and “certain European countries” of making “unsubstantiated allegations” about continued presence of Eritrean troops in Tigray region.

Isaias attended Saudi Arabia-Africa summit. President Isaias 9 Nov travelled to Saudi capital Riyadh for three-day Saudi Arabia-Africa summit beginning 10 Nov; 13 Nov met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. While in Riyadh, Isaias held separate meetings with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Somali President Hassan Sheik Mohamud to discuss Red Sea security. Isaias and Sisi also discussed Sudan crisis, during which Isaias reportedly called for African Union (AU)-led peace initiative. In interview with media outlet Asharq al-Awsat next day, however, Isaias launched scathing critique of AU, alongside Intergovernmental Authority on Development and Economic Community of West African States, dismissing them as ineffective.

Africa

Eritrea

Authorities rejected Ethiopian PM’s calls for direct access to sea, laying bare deteriorating bilateral relations; govt continued to expand regional partnerships.

Asmara dismissed Abiy’s calls for negotiations over sea access. In audio released 13 Oct, Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed said that securing direct access to sea (Ethiopia has been landlocked since 1993 Eritrean independence) is vital for Ethiopia’s development and stressed historic links to Red Sea; he called for open discussions with neighbours about possible solutions and warned that Ethiopia’s lack of access was potential source of future conflict. Eritrea 16 Oct responded harshly, dismissing “excessive discourses” on water and sea access and emphasising that Asmara will not “be drawn into such alleys and platforms”. Response laid bare worsening relations between Addis and Asmara, with latter fearful that its larger neighbour may have territorial ambitions.

Eritrea continued to strengthen regional ties. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud 8-9 Oct visited Asmara amid concerted Eritrean efforts to enhance bilateral relations. High-level delegation led by FM Osman Saleh 12 Oct travelled to Egypt to discuss Sudan conflict with Egypt’s FM Sameh Shoukry; delegation 14 Oct met with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Meanwhile, delegation led by Ambassador Negasi Sengal 23-24 Oct attended Forum on China-Africa cooperation in Chinese capital Beijing.

Africa

Eritrea

UN report warned of ongoing Eritrean violations in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, President Isaias met with Sudan’s army chief, and several Eritrean diaspora events descended into violence.

UN accused Eritrean forces of ongoing violations in Tigray. UN rights commission report published 18 Sept warned of “ongoing atrocities” in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, confirming that Eritrean troops, alongside militia members from Ethiopia’s Amhara region, “continue to commit grave violations”, including “systematic rape and sexual violence of women and girls”.

Asmara continued work to bolster regional standing. President Isaias 11 Sept met with Sudan’s army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in capital Asmara; according to state media, Isaias reiterated Eritrea’s pre-war plan for political stability and security in Sudan, dubbed “Transition to Safety”, and underscored need to harmonise various external peace initiatives instigated after outbreak of hostilities (see Sudan). Meanwhile, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina 1 Sept met with Isaias, praising govt and pledging more support for country’s economic development.

Violence broke out at Eritrean cultural festivals in Israel and Germany. Supporters and opponents of Isaias’ govt 2 Sept clashed during Eritrean cultural festival in Israel’s capital Tel Aviv, leaving around 150 people injured; violence 16 Sept broke out between opposing sides during another cultural festival in German city of Stuttgart. Asmara 9 Sept accused “Eritrea’s detractors” of fomenting unrest among diaspora communities.

Africa

Eritrea

Asmara rejected fresh accusations of troop presence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region while fears simmered that Ethiopia’s Amhara rebellion could draw Eritrea in; army accused of human rights abuses.

Asmara dismissed allegations of troop presence in Tigray. Ministry of Foreign Affairs 10 Aug summoned British Chargé d’Affaires after British Ambassador to Ethiopia Darren Welch 9 Aug called for complete withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia’s Tigray region; govt accused Welch of “endorsing the TPLF’s [Tigray People’s Liberation Front] irredentist claims”.

Amhara rebellion heightened risks of Eritrean involvement on insurgent side. Ethiopia’s Defence Minister Abraham Belay 22 Aug announced plans to return hundreds of thousands of people displaced from Western and parts of Southern Tigray (under Amhara’s administration since Nov 2020) to their homes; Abraham added that govt will dissolve Amhara’s “illegal administration” in these areas in accordance with Nov 2022 peace deal with TPLF (see Ethiopia). Remarks came amid escalating rebellion in Amhara region, led by nationalist militia known as Fano, and increased likelihood of Asmara supporting Fano rebellion in order to prevent Tigray from recovering control of disputed territory and gaining access to an external border.

UN spotlighted human rights abuses in army. UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Eritrea Mohamed Babiker 7 Aug said Eritrean conscripts are subjected to torture, inhumane or degrading treatment, sexual and gender-based violence, forced labour and abusive conditions during military service.

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.