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Violence in Amhara and Oromia regions remained rampant, and PM Abiy’s calls for sea access rattled Ethiopia’s neighbours amid deteriorating relations with Eritrea.
Fano-federal fighting continued in Amhara region. Clashes between federal forces and Amhara nationalist militia known as Fano occurred in rural areas and small towns of Amhara’s North Wollo, South Wollo, West Gojjam, East Gojjam and North Shewa zones, as well as Oromia region’s North Shewa Zone. Indications mid Oct surfaced that military is planning final offensive to “eliminate” Fano, though rebellion’s decentralised structure will likely complicate efforts. Ethiopian Human Rights Commission 30 Oct warned of high civilian casualties.
Hostilities in Oromia persisted amid rising risk of intercommunal violence. Clashes between govt forces and Oromo Liberation Army continued throughout Oct. Govt drone strikes 7-8 Oct in Horo Guduru Wollega Zone killed at least twelve. In North Shewa’s Dera Woreda (home to significant number of Amharas), federal forces fought OLA and Fano; with both insurgencies operating in area, risk of ethnically motivated attacks on Amhara and Oromo civilians is high. Kidnappings-for-ransom continued to rise. Notably, suspected OLA militants 3 Oct abducted nine civilians from Sululta city, demanding 300,000 birr (approx $5,500) per victim; 19 Oct abducted unknown number of Chinese nationals.
Abiy’s calls for talks on sea access laid bare deteriorating relations with Eritrea. In audio released 13 Oct, PM Abiy pronounced 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 and warned that Ethiopia’s lack of access was potential source of future conflict. Eritrea 16 Oct said “discourses” on water and sea access had become “excessive” and emphasised that Asmara will not “be drawn into such alleys”; response revealed deteriorating relations between Addis and Asmara (see Eritrea). Somalia and Djibouti 17, 19 Oct respectively rejected Abiy’s appeal for talks.
In other important developments. Situation in Tigray region remained static. UN humanitarian agency 9 Oct warned that “drought-like conditions” in parts of Amhara, Tigray, Somali and Afar regions have increased food insecurity. Third round of talks on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam 24 Oct concluded without breakthrough (see Nile Waters).
Violence in Amhara exacted heavy toll on civilians, Tigray’s interim administration faced opposition amid rising crime levels, and govt-insurgent fighting continued in Oromia.
Civilians bore brunt of ongoing hostilities in Amhara region. Fighting primarily between federal forces and nationalist militia known as Fano continued, with latter’s scattered presence and lack of cohesion rendering rebellion difficult to combat. Though most clashes occurred in rural areas, Fano militants 24 Sept managed to enter Gondar city, leading to deadly skirmishes with federal forces. Fano militants same day attacked Debre Markos city (East Gojjam), killing mayor. Conflict exacted heavy toll on civilians. Notably, federal forces late Aug-early Sept reportedly killed at least 70 in northeast Majete town for alleged ties to Fano; drone strikes early Sept in East Gojam, West Gojam and North Shewa zones reportedly killed at least 50; and strike in West Gojjam’s Dembecha and Quarit districts 17 Sept killed at least 48. Fano militants also crossed into Oromia region, 9 Sept attacking civilians in West Shewa and North Shewa zones; alleged Fano militants 15-16 Sept killed around 30 in East Wollega Zone.
Tigray peace process faced new challenges. Tigray region’s interim president Getachew Reda 6 Sept claimed federal govt had agreed to dismantle Amhara’s “illegal administration” in disputed Western and Southern Tigray, though Amhara unrest, in part driven by fears govt will return disputed territories to Tigray, risks complicating issue. Getachew also warned of mounting crime and rising political tensions; opposition-led protesters next day gathered in regional capital Mekelle to denounce administration’s failure to improve security; authorities violently dispersed protesters and arrested scores, including opposition leaders. Meanwhile, UN rights commission 18 Sept warned of “ongoing atrocities” in Tigray, perpetrated by “Eritrean troops and Amhara militia members” (see Eritrea).
Fighting in Oromia region persisted. Hostilities between Oromo Liberation Army and federal forces continued, notably in East Wollega, Horo Guduru Wollega and North Shewa zones. Oromia President Shimelis Abdissa 11 Sept said govt was committed to “silencing guns… through peaceful means”, though no talks have occurred since first round of negotiations ended early May.
In another important development. Final filling of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam completed 10 Sept (see Nile Waters).
Amhara region witnessed worsening violence as nationalist militia clashed with security forces, prompting Addis Ababa to declare state of emergency; federal minister vowed to end Amhara’s “illegal administration” in Western and Southern Tigray.
Violence in Amhara region reached new heights. Fighting between Amhara nationalist militia known as Fano and federal and regional forces dramatically escalated, with Fano early Aug seizing control of several towns and cities. Addis Ababa 3 Aug blocked internet access to region, next day declared six-month state of emergency. In following weeks, authorities arrested hundreds of people allegedly linked to militants, including politician and outspoken govt critic Christian Tadelle. By 9 Aug, federal forces had recaptured major towns, pushing Fano militants to rural areas where fighting continued. Clashes late Aug flared in large towns, such as Debre Tabor and Debre Markos. UN 29 Aug said at least 183 killed in clashes since July.
Minister vowed to return IDPs to Western and Southern Tigray. Defence Minister Abraham Belay 22 Aug announced on Facebook govt plans to return people displaced during Tigray conflict 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 as per Nov 2022 peace deal with Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Remarks risk enflaming perceptions among Amhara that federal govt betrayed them when it struck deal with TPLF, and could empower Fano rebellion and draw Eritrea into conflict (see Eritrea).
Govt-insurgent fighting persisted in Oromia region. Heavy clashes between govt and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) continued in Oromia, with civilians again targeted. Notably, residents in West Shewa Zone’s Chobi district 16 Aug accused govt troops of killing at least 12 civilians during anti-insurgent operations; OLA fighters 17 Aug attacked police station in West Guji, killing local official. Fano continued to mount attacks and abduct residents.
In other important developments. World Food Programme 8 Aug resumed food aid deliveries, suspended in June. BRICS bloc of emerging economies 24 Aug invited Ethiopia to join from Jan 2024. Talks with Egypt and Sudan over Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam 28 Aug concluded without breakthrough (see Nile Waters).
Violence in Oromia continued unabated, Amhara Fano militia stepped up attacks on govt forces, and Tigray's top commander announced demobilisation of over 50,000 troops.
Clashes between insurgents and govt forces persisted in Oromia region. Fighting raged in Oromia between govt forces and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) following failed talks in May, with sides stepping up operations in bid to strengthen their respective negotiating positions should talks resume. Hostilities notably occurred in West Hararghe and Arsi zones, where OLA operations have been rare. Month also saw OLA, as well as unaffiliated bandits, increase kidnappings for ransom.
Violence intensified in Amhara region. Discontent with federal govt in Amhara simmered as clashes between, on one side, Fano militia and defected Amhara paramilitaries and, on the other, federal and regional forces late July escalated in North Shewa, North Wollo and Gondar zones; notably, Fano gunmen 26 July ambushed army in Gondar. Month saw spike in assassinations of local officials, likely perpetrated by Fano: notably, gunmen 3 July shot police chief and his deputy in Dejen District (East Gojam Zone); gunmen 14 July killed police commander of Debre Berhan town (North Shewa).
Tigray-Amhara tensions persisted over territorial dispute, Tigray demobilised over 50,000 troops. PM Abiy 6 July pressed Tigray and Amhara to resolve territorial disputes through peaceful consultations (Western and parts of Southern Tigray have been under Amhara’s administration since Nov 2020); Amhara regional authorities next day announced plans for referendum to settle issue but offered few details, such as who would organise vote or be eligible to cast a ballot. Tigray official 13 July reportedly said holding referendum while parts of region remain under Amhara’s control would be illegal. Meanwhile, Tigray’s top commander Tadesse Worede 26 July announced demobilisation of over 50,000 Tigray forces and urged federal govt to ensure withdrawal of Amhara and Eritrean forces.
In other important developments. Authorities in Gambella region 20 July imposed curfew after ethnic Anuak militias killed scores, mostly Nuer community members, in Gambella city. Ethiopia and Egypt 13 July agreed to seek final deal on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam within four months (see Nile Waters).
Deadly violence persisted in Oromia region, Tigray peace process remained on track despite challenges, and unrest simmered in Amhara region amid rising opposition to federal govt.
Insecurity remained rampant in Oromia, exacting heavy toll on civilians. Hostilities between Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and military continued at high intensity; month also saw clashes between Amhara Fano militia and govt forces. Meanwhile, armed groups stepped up attacks on civilians. Notably, OLA 6 June attacked bus near Bule Hora town (West Guji Zone), killing two; Fano militia 8-9 June killed at least three in Agemsa town (East Wollega); UN humanitarian agency 14 June reported deteriorating humanitarian situation following attacks on civilians in parts of Horo Guduru Wollega and East Wollega zones. Kidnappings also continued; notably, gunmen 24 June abducted around 50 people in Ali Doro area (North Shewa Zone), demanding ransom.
Tigray peace process saw mixed progress. NGO Human Rights Watch 1 June reported Amhara forces in disputed Western Tigray continued ethnic cleansing of Tigrayans after Nov 2022 truce. Amhara residents of Western Tigray 4 June demonstrated, demanding govt address status of ethnic Amharas living there. U.S. Horn of Africa envoy 7 June met with federal and Tigray leaders, and African Union (AU) officials, later confirmed parties agreed to extend AU ceasefire monitoring and verification team’s mandate until Dec 2023. Tigray Interim President Getachew Reda 11 June visited Amhara’s capital Bahir Dar for first time since Tigray war ended, pledged to continue work toward “sustainable peace” during talks with Amhara’s president.
Fano militia clashed with federal forces in Amhara. Amid rising discontent with federal govt in Amhara region, sporadic fighting occurred during month between federal forces and Amhara nationalist Fano militia, notably leaving six dead on 10 June in Awi Zone. Other Amhara nationalist factions feeling isolated as federal govt strengthens relations with Tigray may resort to low-grade armed rebellion.
In other important developments. U.S. development agency 8 June suspended food aid to Ethiopia after uncovering “widespread and coordinated campaign” to divert assistance; World Food Program next day followed suit. Addis Ababa 29 June requested to join BRICS bloc of emerging economies that includes Russia, Brazil, China, India and South Africa.
Violence in Oromia intensified after govt-OLA talks failed to produce agreement, federal-Tigray relations faced setback, and security operations in Amhara drew criticism from human rights body.
Govt-OLA talks ended without agreement amid uncompromising stances. Peace talks between govt and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) that began 25 April in Tanzania ended 3 May without agreement as sides failed to reach consensus on key political issues: OLA demanded greater political role in Oromia region, proposing power-sharing arrangement via transitional administration until next election; govt rejected proposition, which would threaten power of Oromo ruling elites, instead insisting on rebels’ disarmament. OLA 17 May accused govt of launching “all-out offensive” after talks concluded, with fighting reported in East and West Shewa Zones (centre), Horo Guduru, East and West Wollega Zones (west), and parts of southern Oromia.
Authorities refused to restore TPLF’s political party status. National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) 13 May denied Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s (TPLF) request to restore its political party status, cancelled Jan 2021 after outbreak of war, citing lack of legal provision for status restoration; NEBE said TPLF can submit re-registration request, meaning legally it would become new political party. TPLF and Tigray’s Interim Regional Administration that TPLF controls said board’s decision endangers peace and urged authorities to reinstate TPLF’s “pre-war status”. Thousands of displaced Tigrayans 23 May protested in major cities in Tigray, demanding withdrawal of outside (Eritrea, Amhara) forces to allow their return home. Meanwhile, World Food Programme and U.S. international development agency 3 May said food aid to Tigray was being diverted and sold on local market, suspended deliveries.
Security forces accused of abuses during operations in Amhara. Tensions eased in Amhara region following April violence, which broke out over govt plans to integrate regional paramilitaries into federal security structures, though suspicion of federal govt as it improves relations with TPLF and engages with OLA persisted. Meanwhile, concerns emerged about “law enforcement campaign” launched late April in Amhara after assassination of key figure from ruling Prosperity Party; notably, Ethiopian Human Rights Commission 9 May accused security forces of “arbitrary arrests, inappropriate treatments of people in custody [and] disproportionate use of force”.
Violence spiked in Amhara over federal decision to dissolve regional paramilitaries, govt and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) held peace talks, and Tigray-federal relations continued to improve.
Plans to disband regional paramilitary sparked deadly violence in Amhara region. Federal govt 6 April announced decision to dissolve regional special forces and integrate them into national army and police. Many in Amhara viewed move as threat to region amid concerns that PM Abiy allying with Oromo nationalists and strengthening ties with Tigray is isolating Amhara. Some special forces refused to comply with order, instead allying with Amhara nationalist militia known as Fano and clashing with federal soldiers in number of zones. Demonstrations also erupted, spreading throughout region, as protesters blocked roads, burned tires and chanted slogans against Abiy and ruling Prosperity Party. Abiy 9 April vowed to press ahead with plan as govt deployed troops, imposed curfew and cut off mobile internet services in parts of Amhara. Dozens were killed in unrest, which began to subside mid-April. Unidentified gunmen 27 April assassinated Girma Yeshitila, head of Prosperity Party’s Amhara branch, together with his entourage in North Shewa Zone; federal govt next day launched “decisive measures” to counter “extremist forces”.
Govt-OLA peace talks got under way in Tanzania. In positive step toward ending long-running OLA insurgency, PM Abiy 23 April announced peace talks with group starting 25 April in Tanzania; OLA same day confirmed news, saying federal govt had accepted its demands for third-party mediator. Fighting between security forces and OLA continued, however, and OLA continued kidnapping civilians.
Tigray’s leader named new cabinet as federal-Tigray relations improved further. Newly appointed leader of Tigray region’s Interim Regional Administration, Getachew Reda, 5 April unveiled 27-member cabinet to lead political transition. Cabinet is dominated by TPLF members, while military controls four posts; opposition Baytona for Greater Tigray Party took two positions amid frustration among Tigray opposition parties with excessive TPLF control. Meanwhile, Federal Ministry of Education delegation 6-7 April visited Tigray to discuss reopening region’s universities. National Rehabilitation Commission head Teshome Toga 14 April visited regional capital, Mekelle, to evaluate progress on disarmament. Prosperity Party VP Adem Farah 27 April led delegation to Mekelle.
Tigray’s peace process made significant headway as federal and Tigray took further steps to strengthen relations; prospects for peace talks in Oromia improved.
Authorities removed TPLF’s terrorist designation and dropped charges against its leaders. At conference in Tigray regional capital Mekelle, Tigray leaders 1-4 March agreed on composition of Interim Regional Administration (IRA), still to be formed; three opposition parties boycotted conference, accusing Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of monopolising power. TPLF 17 March selected peace deal’s chief negotiator, Getachew Reda, to head IRA; PM Abiy 23 March formally appointed Reda to head IRA, who next day said he would prioritise Tigray’s economic recovery and restoring lost territory. Federal parliament 22 March removed TPLF’s terrorist designation, marking major step toward consolidating peace since delisting is in effect a prerequisite for IRA’s formation. Federal govt 30 March dropped criminal charges against TPLF political and military leaders. Following two-day trip to Ethiopia 15-16 March, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 20 March announced U.S. had determined that all sides committed “war crimes” during Tigray conflict and that federal, Eritrean and Amhara forces committed crimes against humanity; federal govt next day warned U.S. against “divisive approach”.
Abiy announced committee to negotiate with Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). Conflict between OLA and security forces continued in Oromia region throughout March, with fighting occurring in West and East Wollega Zones, North and East Shewa Zones, and Kamashi and Metekel Zones in Benishangul-Gumuz region. Yet Abiy 28 March renewed hope for peace talks by announcing formation of committee to negotiate with OLA, which same day reported that there are “positive signs peace talks… will take place”.
Oromo-Amhara tensions deepened. In sign of rising tensions between Oromia and Amhara regions, Oromia authorities late Feb-early March restricted transport from Amhara region to federal capital Addis Ababa, which is located in Oromia but is self-governing; Amhara President Yilikal Kefale 6 March declared blockade “unconstitutional”. Addis Ababa’s Oromo Mayor Adanech Abebe 14 March accused individuals of “flocking to the capital from some regional states with the intention of overthrowing the legally elected government”, implying regional authorities enforced blockade amid security concerns; National Movement of Amhara party same day condemned remark as “genocidal incitement”.
PM Abiy met with TPLF leaders as peace process progressed, violence escalated in Oromia after Orthodox Church split, and authorities and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) hinted at interest in truce.
Tigray peace process continued to advance. Federal govt and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) continued to take concrete steps toward consolidating peace. PM Abiy 3 Feb met with TPLF leaders for first time since 2020 in southern Halala Kella resort. National Security Adviser Redwan Hussien next day announced central bank would send 5bn birr ($90mn) to Tigray to increase cash flows and upped number of daily flights to regional capital Mekelle. TPLF 12 Feb established committee to form regional interim administration. Additionally, TPLF chief negotiator Getachew Reda 6 Feb said Eritrean forces had mostly withdrawn from Tigray but that “small units” remained (see Eritrea). UN humanitarian agency 2 Feb said assistance had scaled up. Meanwhile, news agency Reuters 27 Feb claimed Addis has been “courting support” from other govts for motion to end UN-mandated inquiry into atrocities in Tigray; over 60 human rights organisations next day urged UN Human Rights Council, due to discuss allegations in March, to reject any such resolution.
Ethiopia Orthodox Church split stoked deadly intercommunal violence. After three archbishops in Oromia late Jan formed breakaway synod, accusing Holy Synod in Addis Ababa of discrimination, Abiy 1 Feb instructed his ministers not to get involved. Abiy’s remarks angered Holy Synod and its mostly Amhara supporters, who viewed him as condoning breakaway faction. Some 4 Feb protested in Oromia’s Shashemene town (West Arsi Zone); violence escalated as demonstrators clashed with Oromia regional special forces backed by breakaway faction, leaving around eight dead. Church same day called for nationwide protests, raising fears of more violence, but called them off after Church leaders 10 Feb met with Abiy. Two factions 15 Feb agreed to resolve disagreement peacefully.
Authorities and Oromo Liberation Army signalled interest in truce. While fighting in Oromia between govt forces and OLA continued, sides indicated growing interest in truce. Reports emerged of informal indirect talks between OLA and Abiy. Oromia President Shimelis Abdissa 17 Feb urged OLA to negotiate; OLA following day expressed readiness for talks but said request lacked “clarity”.
Tigray’s peace process made notable progress on disarmament and Eritrean troop withdrawals from region; violence continued to worsen in Oromia.
Tigray handed over heavy weapons, significant Eritrean troop withdrawals occurred. Peace process between federal govt and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) progressed. Most notably, Tigray’s forces 10 Jan began handing over heavy weapons to federal forces, a key aspect of Nov peace deal, in Agulae town some 30km north of regional capital Mekelle in presence of African Union monitors. Although peace agreement stipulates foreign and non-federal troop withdrawal as TPLF combatants hand over heavy weapons, Tigrayans reported Eritrea’s continued military presence in rural areas and outskirts of some urban areas. Still, around 20 Jan their troops began withdrawing from most major cities, while Amhara forces 11 Jan left Shire. Federal military 17 Jan entered northern Adigrat city from which it will patrol Eritrean border.
Humanitarian flows continued to improve, more services resumed. Private Wegagen Bank 2 Jan resumed banking services in Mekelle but customers were unable to withdraw funds exceeding 2,000 Birr ($37) due to cash shortages. Ethiopian Airlines same day resumed commercial flights to Shire. UN humanitarian agency 18 Jan said that, between early Oct and 4 Jan, partners had delivered food to around 3.7mn people in Tigray.
Violence in Oromia persisted amid renewed govt resolve to defeat OLA militarily. Federal forces 2 Jan announced renewed military campaigns against Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) amid ongoing fighting in number of zones in central, western and southern Oromia. Amhara militia involvement continued to complicate situation. Although OLA largely conducts rural operations, group 7 Jan launched second major attack in urban area since Nov, breaking into prison in Bule Hora town (West Guji Zone), killing five guards and freeing over 480 inmates. Meanwhile, OLA 23 Jan published manifesto spelling out its vision and goals; announcement follows late-Dec govt decision to rule out negotiations with OLA, citing group’s lack of “purpose and leadership”.
Sudanese and Ethiopian leaders met. PM Abiy Ahmed 26 Jan met with Sudan’s Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in Sudanese capital Khartoum; Burhan reportedly said sides agree “on all matters regarding Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam”.
Fragile calm prevailed in Tigray as Eritrean forces began withdrawing from region and efforts to implement peace deal continued; escalating violence in Oromia aggravated Oromo-Amhara tensions.
Tigray’s peace deal held and Eritrean forces began withdrawing. 2 Nov peace agreement between federal govt and Tigray People’s Liberation Front continued to hold, although implementation of agreement was slow, particularly on security and political arrangements; notably, sides 3 Dec missed original deadline for Tigray’s disarmament. Tigray’s top commander Tadesse Werede 6 Dec reiterated that disarmament depended on region’s security, adding that continued Eritrean and Amhara troop presence would impede implementation. However, efforts to sustain momentum on peace deal continued and sides 22 Dec agreed to establish joint African Union Monitoring, Verification and Compliance mission to oversee implementation; days later, high-level delegation from federal govt 26 Dec arrived in Mekelle, which Tigray leaders hailed as “milestone”; monitoring mission launched 29 Dec. In another positive development, news agency Reuters 30 Dec reported that Eritrean troops had left several towns in Tigray’s Central and North Western Zones (see Eritrea). Meanwhile, UN humanitarian agency 6 Dec said humanitarian access had improved, federal govt began partially restoring phone and electricity lines and commercial flights 28 Dec resumed between Addis and Mekelle.
Conflict in Oromia intensified, fuelling intercommunal tensions. Fighting raged in western Oromia as Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) expanded operations and Amhara militias known as Fano deepened their involvement; all actors targeted civilians. Hostilities occurred throughout month in Horo Guduru Zone, East, Kellem and West Wollega Zones and South West and East Shewa Zones. Notably, clashes 3-4 Dec between Fano and Oromia regional special forces around Gutin town in East Wollega killed dozens and displaced thousands; Oromo residents and officials blamed Fano, while Amhara residents said Oromia Special Police initiated attacks. Deteriorating situation heightened Oromo-Amhara tensions elsewhere, notably in capital Addis Ababa, where several disputes related to display of Oromia flag and singing of Oromia anthem in public schools led to protests early Nov in several schools.
Relations with Sudan continued to improve. Ethiopia and Sudan 24 Dec signed cooperation agreement on peace and security issues.
Federal govt and Tigray leaders signed deal to end devastating conflict, but fragile calm could shatter absent consolidation of initial pledges; violence in Oromia intensified.
Federal and Tigray leaders struck welcome, yet fragile, peace accord. After over two years of brutal warfare, federal govt and Tigray leaders 2 Nov signed surprise “permanent cessation of hostilities” accord in South Africa’s capital Pretoria under African Union auspices. Agreement reflected military pressure Tigray’s forces had come under in Oct: federal govt consented to halt its offensive and end de facto siege; in return, Tigray’s embattled leaders agreed to disarm their forces, dissolve Tigray’s administration (thereby delegitimising regional election that led to war in 2020) and restore federal authority in region; sides also agreed to discussions over “contested areas”. Accord received mixed reactions: PM Abiy and international actors welcomed it; Eritrea’s silence appeared to signal consent; Amhara nationalists feared deal could be mechanism to hand over contested Western Tigray to Mekelle; Tigray’s leaders expressed dissatisfaction with some aspects, reflecting deal’s fragility. Nonetheless, both sides stopped fighting and humanitarian deliveries began trickling into region, although World Food Programme 25 Nov said deliveries are “not matching needs”. Military commanders 12 Nov also agreed during follow-up talks in Kenya’s capital Nairobi that Tigray would hand over heavy weapons in return for foreign (Eritrea) and non-federal (Amhara) troop withdrawal from Tigray.
Violence escalated in Oromia amid uptick in rebel operations and govt air strikes. Fighting between federal and Oromia security forces and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebels intensified. Notably, federal air force early Nov launched three drone strikes in West Wollega Zone, killing 55. OLA fighters 6 Nov entered Nekemte town (East Wollega Zone) where they clashed with security forces, looted two banks, released over 120 prisoners from “Abiy regime’s torture camps” and abducted officials. OLA now controls over a dozen districts in East and West Wollega zones.
Relations with Sudan thawed. Following talks 15 Oct between PM Abiy and Sudan’s de facto head of state Gen. al-Burhan in Ethiopia’s Bahir Dar city, govt representatives met several times during month to resolve border dispute.
Absent an immediate cessation of hostilities, military offensives in Tigray could result in mass atrocities against civilians in coming weeks.
Federal coalition gained ground in Tigray, raising risk of serious abuses toward local population. After weeks of federal and allied military offensives on multiple fronts in northern Ethiopia, Tigray’s defences began giving way to superior firepower. Notably, Tigray’s forces 2 Oct withdrew from Kobo district in Amhara region’s North Wello Zone; 17 Oct withdrew from strategic Shire city (North Western Zone), which hosts tens of thousands of displaced persons. Federal and Eritrean forces began pushing eastward from Shire toward Aksum and then Adwa cities (Central Zone), where fierce fighting in surrounding areas is ongoing. Federal and Amhara forces 18 Oct captured Alamata and Korem towns (Southern Zone). Meanwhile, Addis 17 Oct said military would seize all federal facilities in Tigray, which will likely fuel continued Tigray resistance to prevent federal govt from forcefully taking control of region. As civilians are caught in crossfire, federal and Eritrean forces could further harm local populations, as they have already done by air. Notably, federal air force 4 Oct killed over 50 displaced people in Adi Daero town (North Western Zone), 14 Oct struck Shire, killing humanitarian worker and two civilians; Ethiopian Red Cross Society 28 Oct reported death of ambulance driver.
African Union (AU) held peace talks in South Africa. Amid mounting international pressure, Tigray and federal negotiators 25 Oct met in South Africa for AU-led peace talks. Whether progress is made remains to be seen. Tigray authorities 16 Oct expressed readiness for immediate cessation of hostilities but demanded Eritrea’s withdrawal from region; federal govt reiterated its willingness to negotiate but is unlikely to halt military operations given recent gains.
Drone strikes in Oromia left scores dead. Amid ongoing clashes between security forces and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), federal air force conducted multiple air strikes. One of deadliest drone strikes occurred 23 Oct in Cobi district in West Shewa Zone at OLA graduation ceremony, killing at least 50, including civilians. Meanwhile, Amhara militias known as Fano reportedly killed at least 43 civilians in five attacks in East Wollega and Horo Guduru Wollega zone during month.
Tigray conflict escalated as hostilities expanded to new fronts and Eritrean forces became heavily involved in fighting; violence persisted in Oromia region.Hostilities in northern Ethiopia escalated and spread to new fronts. Following resumption of fighting 24 Aug in northern Ethiopia, Eritrea 1 Sept re-entered conflict; Tigray authorities accused federal and Eritrean forces of launching major offensives in Tigray’s north, with some clashes in Amhara-controlled Western Tigray. Throughout month, federal and Eritrean forces clashed with Tigray’s forces in Western, North Western, Eastern and Central Zones, and Afar region’s Fenti Rasu (Zone 2). Federal and Eritrean forces 13 Sept captured Shiraro town (North Western Zone), seemingly to position themselves for assault on Shire city. Federal forces 13, 14, 23 Sept struck Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, killing at least 11 civilians. Tigray authorities 20 Sept accused Eritrea of launching “full-scale” offensive in Tigray’s north, though scale of incursion appears to have been overstated; 27 Sept accused Eritrean forces of airstrike on Adi Daero town 25 Sept that killed five civilians. In Amhara region, Tigray forces clashed with federal and Amhara security forces and militia in Wag Himra, North Wollo and North Gondar Zones.Diplomatic efforts failed to halt fighting in northern Ethiopia. Tigray leaders 11 Sept announced readiness for truce and African Union (AU)-led peace process following backdoor negotiations facilitated by U.S. Special Envoy for Horn of Africa Mike Hammer; privately maintained opposition to AU Envoy Olusegun Obasanjo and demand for return of Western Tigray and resumption of basic services. International actors, including AU and UN, welcomed Tigray’s readiness for “peaceful resolution” to conflict, while Kenyan President Ruto 13 Sept appointed former President Kenyatta to lead country’s diplomatic efforts in Ethiopia, signalling Nairobi’s continued engagement in peace initiative. Despite diplomatic overtures, federal govt had yet to respond to Tigray authorities’ announcement by end of month.Violence persisted in Oromia. Clashes in Oromia region between security forces and Oromo Liberation Army continued throughout month in North, East, West Shewa, Kellem, West Wollega, East Guji, Ilu Aba Bora and Buno Bedele Zones. Ethiopian Human Rights Commission 6 Sept confirmed massacre of over 60 civilians 29-31 Aug in Horo Guduru Wollega Zone; report said “armed militia from Amhara”, likely militias known as Fano, perpetrated violence.
Fighting erupted between federal and Tigray forces, shattering March ceasefire and threatening to derail long-awaited peace talks; conflict will likely spread to new fronts in coming days. Clashes 24 Aug broke out between federal and Tigray forces around Kobo town near Tigray’s border in Amhara region, ending five-month ceasefire. Both sides blamed each other for renewed violence, which quickly escalated. Federal govt 24 Aug claimed it shot down plane coming from Sudan carrying weapons for Tigray forces; Tigray authorities dismissed statement as “lie”, while Sudan’s foreign ministry 31 Aug summoned Ethiopian ambassador over latter’s accusations that Khartoum “violated Ethiopian airspace”. Tigray authorities 27 Aug claimed control of Kobo. Senior Tigray official, Getachew Reda, 26, 30 Aug accused federal govt of launching two strikes targeting civilians in Tigray’s capital Mekelle; 31 Aug accused govt of sending “tens of thousands of troops” to neighbouring Eritrea. Federal govt same day said Tigray’s forces were expanding fight to different fronts, notably near border with Sudan. Meanwhile, UN 30 Aug said aid deliveries into Tigray suspended amid fighting. Earlier in August, tensions had been rising amid lack of progress toward peace talks. Positions had hardened amid disagreement about whether African Union Envoy Olusegun Obasanjo or Kenya’s govt should mediate; furthermore, Tigray’s authorities demanded return of Amhara-controlled Western Tigray to Tigray’s administration and resumption of basic services before talks occur. Conflict in Oromia region between security forces and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) persisted, notably in North and West Shewa Zones, and East, West and Kellem Wollega Zones. Fighting from 4 Aug also occurred in normally peaceful Buno Bedele Zone. Authorities 6 Aug captured senior OLA commander in Ethiopia-Kenya border town, Moyale; earlier in month, authorities arrested intelligence officer in Borena Zone on suspicion of working with OLA, hinting at growing collaboration between OLA rebels and local officials. OLA 17 Aug proposed humanitarian truce to facilitate aid deliveries into drought-stricken region, which federal govt 20 Aug rejected. Elsewhere, clashes 11 Aug erupted between Afar and Somali ethnic militias in Somali region’s Sitti Zone, reportedly displacing thousands. PM Abiy 12 Aug announced completion of third filling of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (see Nile Waters).
Disagreement over mediator impeded progress toward Tigray peace talks; violence persisted in Oromia and Al-Shabaab made rare incursion from Somalia. Federal and Tigray govts in July took further steps toward peace talks. Seven-member negotiating committee tasked by Addis Ababa to lead talks 12 July met for first time. Tigray leadership 18 July announced creation of negotiating team, reiterated refusal to negotiate over Amhara-controlled Western Tigray, saying area must be returned to Tigray’s administration. Senior official 28 July said federal govt was ready to negotiate “without preconditions”. Disagreement over whether African Union (AU) Envoy Olusegun Obasanjo or Kenya’s govt should lead mediation efforts however impeded progress toward negotiations; federal govt favours Obasanjo, but Tigray leaders accuse him of close ties to Addis Ababa. In second large-scale attack against ethnic Amharas in Oromia region in two weeks, armed group 4 July targeted ethnic Amhara villages in Kellem Wollega Zone, killing at least 150. PM Abiy accused Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) of “massacre”, vowed to “eliminate” group, while OLA denied responsibility and blamed govt. Meanwhile, clashes 7-8 July erupted in Oromia’s West Wollega and Kellem Wollega Zones; residents said federal forces killed state civil servants for allegedly refusing to cooperate against OLA. Fighting between govt forces and OLA reported during month in Degem and Dera districts in Oromia’s North Shewa Zone. In Amhara region, clashes 10-12 July erupted between armed militia, possibly OLA, and govt forces at border of North Shewa and Oromia Special Zones; at least 25 killed. In rare incursion into Ethiopia, Al-Shabaab militants 20 July entered Somali region from neighbouring Somalia; authorities 24 July announced victory over group in operation that reportedly left over 200 militants dead. Renewed clashes 25 July however erupted, with authorities claiming 85 Al-Shabaab killed. Senior U.S. military official 28 July warned group will likely continue launching attacks in Ethiopia. After renewed violence in disputed al-Fashaga borderlands late June, Abiy and head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan 5 July met in Kenya, agreed to establish joint committee to resolve dispute (see Sudan).
Violence left hundreds of civilians dead in Oromia; amid ongoing food crisis, Tigray leadership and federal govt announced readiness for peace talks. After almost six months without major confrontation between Tigray and federal forces, Tigray President Debretsion Gebremichael 14 June said his govt was ready for talks; federal govt 28 June announced creation of seven-member committee to hold peace talks, chaired by Deputy PM Demeke Mekonnen. UN humanitarian agency 16 June said 1,200 aid trucks had arrived in Tigray since 1 June, almost half of total since 1 April; 27 June however said over 13mn people still in need of food assistance in northern Ethiopia, compared to 9mn in Nov. EU official 21 June said fuel shortages were hampering aid deliveries to Tigray, which federal govt 23 June dismissed as “myth”. Ethnic violence escalated in Oromia region amid ongoing fighting between Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and govt forces, notably in West, East and Kellem Wollega Zones, East and West Guji Zones, and West Arsi Zone. Regional govt and Ethiopian Human Rights Commission accused OLA fighters of 18 June killing hundreds of ethnic Amhara civilians in Gimbi district of West Wollega Zone; OLA denied responsibility and blamed govt. Violence spilled into neighbouring Gambella region, where OLA and Gambella Liberation Front rebels 14 June attacked govt forces in regional capital Gambella; 40 including 28 rebels reportedly killed. In Southern Nations region, mob 4 June stoned nine ethnic Oromos to death in Burji district amid rumour that Guji Oromos had killed ethnic Burji; Koore ethnic militias and govt forces early June reportedly clashed with Derashe ethnic militias in Derashe district, leaving five dead. In Benishangul-Gumuz region, clashes between Gumuz People’s Democratic Movement rebels and regional forces 1 June reportedly killed 19 in Kamashi Zone. Meanwhile, fighting late June erupted between Ethiopian and Sudanese forces in disputed al-Fashaga border zone. Khartoum 26 June accused Ethiopia forces of executing seven Sudanese soldiers and one civilian after abducting them in Sudan 22 June, which Addis Ababa denied. Sudan 27-28 June fired heavy artillery into al-Fashaga and claimed control of Jabal Kala al-Laban town.
Despite signs of renewed hostilities, Tigray leadership announced mass prisoner release in alleged bid to advance peace, and aid deliveries to Tigray significantly increased; authorities carried out mass arrests in Amhara region. Federal forces from early May reportedly increased presence in Western Tigray and ordered Amhara forces to vacate occupied area; westward movements of Tigray forces also reported. Meanwhile, clashes between Tigray and Eritrean forces 8 May erupted in Badme and Rama border areas, compelling Eritrea to relocate some forces stationed in Western Tigray starting 11 May; Eritrean forces 28-29 May allegedly shelled Sheraro town in Tigray, killing one child and wounding 18 people; Tigray authorities 30 May claimed they had repelled Eritrean offensive launched 24 May, killing or wounding over 300 Eritrean soldiers including four commanders. Meanwhile, Tigray leadership 20 May announced release of over 4,200 “prisoners of war” in hope that such “confidence building measures” might lead to “peaceful resolution” of conflict; federal govt 22 May claimed releasees were captured civilians, not soldiers. Meanwhile, assistance to region increased significantly. World Food Programme 20 May said 319 trucks of humanitarian aid had entered Tigray during week of 10-16 May; biggest convoy of aid since March ceasefire, consisting of 215 trucks, 27 May reportedly departed Afar region for Tigray. As part of crackdown against militia fighters, federal and allied Amhara authorities 23 May announced arrests of over 4,500 people in Amhara; detainees included former Amhara special forces commander Tefera Mamo, over 200 people suspected of colluding with Amhara militias known as Fano, and at least 19 media personnel; state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission 22 May said some arrests did not follow “basic human rights principles”. In Oromia region, conflict continued between federal and regional forces, and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) in West Arsi, West Hararghe, Guji, West Shewa and North Shewa zones; at least 30 civilians killed during month. OLA 18 May claimed attack on military camp in Sululta town, 13km from capital Addis Ababa, said 16 soldiers killed. Military 21 May said it killed 44 OLA rebels and captured five in Worejarso district of North Shewa Zone.
While fragile truce between federal govt and Tigray forces held, humanitarian aid to embattled region remained grossly insufficient; elsewhere, religious tensions flared and other violence continued. No clashes reported in April in northern Tigray region after federal and Tigray authorities late March agreed to humanitarian truce. For first time since Dec 2021, aid convoys 1, 2 April entered Tigray by land; another convoy of 50 trucks 15 April arrived in regional capital Mekelle after Tigray forces 12 April withdrew from Erebti district in Afar region. World Health Organization 18 April said only 4% of required aid had reached Tigray since truce. More truck convoys later mid- to late-April reached Mekelle, but deliveries by month’s end remained far from sufficient to meet needs. Tigray forces 25 April said they were completely withdrawing from Afar in hope aid could finally pour into Tigray; federal govt 28 April rebutted claims as “big lies”. In joint report, NGOs Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch 6 April alleged Amhara regional authorities and security forces, with possible participation of federal soldiers, carried out “ethnic cleansing” campaign in Western Tigray from Nov 2020, systematically expelling several hundred thousand Tigrayans. Meanwhile, religious tensions spiked. Armed assailants 26 April attacked Muslim worshippers in Gondar city, Amhara; attack and subsequent unrest left 21 dead. Retaliatory attacks against Orthodox and Protestant Christians reported 28 April in Werabe town, Southern Nations region; casualties unknown. Also in Amhara, clashes in border area between Jille Dhumuga district in Oromia Zone and Efrata Gidim district in North Shewa Zone around 18-19 April reportedly left 20 dead, over 5,000 displaced; Amhara region officials accused Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebel group of initiating violence, while ethnic Oromo residents blamed Amhara militias known as Fano, and regional special forces. In Oromia region, federal govt forces along with Oromia regional forces early April launched renewed offensive against OLA: intense fighting reported 2-3 April along highway connecting Hawassa city to Ethiopia-Kenya border town of Moyale; violence throughout month persisted in Oromia’s North, West and South West Shewa zones, also Horo Guduru Wollega, West and East Guji zones, with all conflict actors reportedly targeting civilians.
Federal govt declared humanitarian truce to allow aid into Tigray region; violence remained rampant in several other regions. In northern Tigray region, Ethiopian air force 4 March conducted two drone attacks near Bahre-Negash resort and airport in Shire city, North Western Zone; death toll unknown. Federal govt 24 March declared “indefinite humanitarian truce effective immediately”, saying it hoped to help facilitate free flow of humanitarian aid into Tigray; Tigray govt next day pledged to respect ceasefire if aid was speedily delivered. In neighbouring Afar region, Tigray forces and Afar regional special forces and militias throughout month continued to clash in Kilbati Rasu (Zone 2). Skirmishes also reported in Amhara region between Tigray forces on one hand, and Amhara regional special forces, Fano militias and Amhara ethnic militias on the other, in Kobo (North Wello Zone) and Sekota (Wag Hamra Zone) districts along Amhara-Tigray border. Also in Amhara region, Fano militiamen around 7-10 March clashed with Amhara regional special forces in East Gojam Zone; four regional police officers killed in Mota town. In Oromia region, fighting between security forces and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) further expanded and intensified in West, North and East Shewa zones. Both sides reportedly targeted civilians: notably, OLA 8 March attacked and reportedly killed seven civilians in Illu Galan district in West Shewa Zone; violence continued next day in and around Ejaji town. Further complicating conflict in Oromia, suspected Fano militia 5-7 March shot dead unknown number of ethnic Karayyu pastoralists in Fentale district of East Shewa Zone. In same area, unidentified assailants 31 March killed 26 people in ambush on Oromia govt-backed militia vehicle. In Benishangul-Gumuz region, unidentified gunmen 2 March ambushed civilian convoy and its military escort in Metekel Zone; 20 soldiers, three civilians and 30 assailants killed; regional security forces and militia next day reportedly rounded up suspects and summarily killed 11, most of them ethnic Tigrayans. Gambela regional govt 12 March said clashes between South Sudanese military and rebels in border areas had in recent days killed at least one and displaced over 9,000 residents of Lare and Jikawo districts, Nuer Zone.
Fighting continued in northern areas, particularly in Afar region, further hindering humanitarian operations; widespread insecurity persisted in other regions. In Afar region, clashes between Tigray forces on one hand, and Afar special forces and militias backed by Ethiopian air force on the other, early to mid-Feb spread from border town of Abala into other areas of Kilbati Rasu-Zone 2. Afar regional govt 7 Feb reported Tigray forces advancing toward Serdo checkpoint, which regulates traffic to Ethiopia’s only access to sea via Djibouti port. Amid ongoing violence in Afar, delivery of humanitarian supplies into Tigray via Semera-Abala-Mekelle road remained suspended. In Amhara region, Tigray forces and federal and Amhara regional forces late Feb reportedly clashed in Raya Kobo Woreda in North Wollo Zone; also in Amhara, unidentified gunmen 7 Feb attacked prison in South Gondar Zone, breaking prisoners out of jail; 16 gunmen reportedly killed. UN Deputy Sec-Gen Amina Mohammed 9 Feb completed five-day visit to Ethiopia, said country in “much better place” than months ago to resolve Tigray conflict. Federal govt 15 Feb lifted state of emergency imposed last Nov. Security situation in Oromia region continued to deteriorate. Insurgent group Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) 3 Feb killed at least three in ambush on Oromia President Shimelis Abdissa’s security detail near Bule Hora in West Guji Zone; several encounters reported 19-21 Feb between OLA and federal forces in West Guji and Guji Zones. Also in Oromia, ethnic Amhara militias launched attacks on civilians, notably killing at least 31 in Horo Guduru Wollega and East Wollega Zones 12-25 Feb. Political tensions ran high in Somali region as ex-regional officials early Feb challenged rule of region’s President Mustafa Omar; regional govt mid-Feb accused “anti-peace elements” of seeking to disrupt peace and stoke unrest. In Gambela region, members of ethnic Murle militia from South Sudan 9-11 Feb killed at least four people and abducted three children in Agnewak Zone. Meanwhile, three parties – Oromo Federalist Congress, Oromo Liberation Front and Ogaden National Liberation Front – 4 Feb said national dialogue lacked impartiality, transparency and inclusivity, making boycott of process likely.
Despite lull in large-scale fighting since late Dec, airstrikes and skirmishes continued notably in western Tigray. Fighting near Abala town along Tigray-Afar border continued to block only available route for humanitarian supplies to Tigray region; aid trucks unable to enter Tigray since 14 Dec. Medical staff at Tigray’s largest hospital 5 Jan attributed 117 deaths at facility to insufficient medical supplies, without providing dates, while UN World Food Programme 14 Jan warned aid operations “about to grind to a halt” as vital supplies running out. UN human rights office same day said airstrikes allegedly carried out by Ethiopian air force in Tigray region had killed at least 108 civilians and injured another 75 since 1 Jan, said attacks could amount to war crimes. Notably, airstrike on camp for internally displaced people in Tigray’s Dedebit area 8 Jan killed over 50 people. In phone call with PM Abiy, U.S. President Biden 10 Jan raised concerns about airstrikes, civilian deaths and detentions under state of emergency. Federal govt 26 Jan decided to lift months-long state of emergency citing improving security situation. Meanwhile, govt 7 Jan said it would open dialogue with political opposition and released six former Tigray People Liberation Front leaders, notably founding member Sebhat Nega; also released Oromo Federalist Congress leaders Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba, and journalist and opposition leader Eskinder Nega. UN Sec-Gen Guterres same day lauded “significant confidence-building step”. Security forces intensified offensive against Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) in Oromia region, with fighting early to mid-Jan expanding to West and East Hararghe Zones, Jimma Zone, Kellem Wollega Zone and all zones of Shewa surrounding capital Addis Ababa; OLA also reported aerial attacks in East Wollega Zone. Clashes late-Jan intensified in West Gujji Zone, with OLA forces reportedly taking control of Torre and Shamole towns. State media 7 Jan said Jaal Odaa Qabsoo, leader of OLA Eastern Command, captured in Harar city. Abdulwahab Mahdi, former leader of rebel group Benishangul-Gumuz People’s Liberation Movement, 5 Jan escaped from prison in Asosa city; regional officials said he might have crossed into Sudan.
Federal govt halted its offensive against Tigray forces after latter announced retreat; moves could help usher in negotiations to end year-long war. Tigray forces 20 Dec announced complete withdrawal from neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions back into Tigray and called for ceasefire. Federal govt 24 Dec said National Defence Forces would pause at current positions, refraining from advancing further into Tigray. UN Sec-Gen Guterres same day urged parties to “grasp this opportunity” to cease hostilities and ensure provision of “much-needed humanitarian assistance”; U.S. State Dept late month said recent developments offered opportunity for parties to come to negotiating table. Earlier in month, federal govt made major territorial gains, reclaiming all of Amhara: federal govt 1 Dec claimed control of number of towns in North Shewa Zone of Amhara, including Shewa Robit, Molale, Mezezo and Raza; 6 Dec said it had recaptured strategic Amhara towns of Dessie and Kombolcha, as well as Bati, Gerba, Kersa and Degan; 18 Dec claimed full control of Amhara’s North Wollo Zone; and 23 Dec said its forces and Amhara regional forces had gained control of Tigray’s Alamata town and were marching northward to Korem town. NGOs Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International 16 Dec jointly accused pro-govt forces of “mass detentions, killings and forced expulsions of ethnic Tigrayans”. UN Human Rights Council next day voted to establish independent investigation into alleged abuses by all parties to northern Ethiopia conflict since Nov 2020. Meanwhile, in Oromia region, unidentified assailants 1 Dec killed 14 people including traditional elder in Karrayyu district of East Shewa Zone; govt blamed Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) while OLA and some residents accused govt. OLA early Dec claimed to have captured several towns in East and West Shewa Zones, and repelled govt offensives in East and West Wollega Zones. Federal govt early Dec conducted drone and air attacks in East Wollega. Oromia regional forces 27 Dec said they had neutralised 18 suspected OLA rebels in recent security operation in Mieso locality, West Hararghe Zone.
Intense fighting continued in north, with federal and allied regional forces resisting Tigray fighters and allies’ push toward capital Addis Ababa. In Amhara region, Tigray forces along with Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) 4 Nov captured Kemissie town in Oromia Zone. Fighting in following days continued toward south and west, with Tigray and OLA units capturing Karakore and Ataye towns in North Shewa Zone 16 Nov and Shewa Robit town in Semien Shewa Zone. In Afar region, Tigray forces failed to capture strategic town of Mille, Awsi Rasu Zone; Afar forces and local militia loyal to PM Abiy put stiff resistance to Tigray forces’ advance reportedly regaining control of Chifra and Kasa Gita late Nov. Govt 24 Nov said Abiy had gone to battlefield, and 30 Nov claimed “great strides” in past few days forced Tigray forces “to relinquish their occupation of key areas” in north. Earlier in month, Tigray forces’ advance toward Addis Ababa reportedly prompted thousands of residents to join self-defence groups, and nine anti-govt groups, including Tigray forces and OLA, 5 Nov formed alliance in bid to unseat Abiy. After govt 2 Nov declared six-month nationwide state of emergency, giving security forces right to detain any suspect without court warrant, Ethiopian Human Rights Commission 7 Nov alleged authorities arresting people based on ethnicity, and UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet 16 Nov said at least 1,000, mostly ethnic Tigrayans, detained in past week. In Oromia region, OLA 16 Nov claimed control of “much” of North Shewa and West Shewa Zones as well as Gidami, Begi and Qondala towns in West Wollega and Kellem Wollega Zones; clashes reported late Nov in East Wollega and West Wollega Zones. Also in Oromia, Oromo and Amhara communities 19 Nov clashed in Nono area, West Shewa Zone, leaving at least 20 dead. Insecurity persisted in Benishangul-Gumuz region: unidentified gunmen 9 Nov killed four civilians in Mandura Woreda in Metekel Zone; security forces killed 19 assailants; federal and regional forces around 22 Nov reportedly clashed with unidentified armed group in Asosa Zone, killing at least 30. Renewed fighting with Sudanese forces reported late-Nov in disputed al-Fashaga border zone (see Sudan).
Amid escalatory fighting in north, Tigray forces captured more territory in Amhara region and could launch an offensive on capital Addis Ababa in coming weeks; clashes between insurgents and govt forces spiked in Oromia region. Following federal airstrikes 7-8 Oct against Tigray forces positions near Wergessa town in North Wello Zone and Wegel Tena town in South Wello Zone, federal troops alongside allied Amhara forces 11 Oct launched ground offensive against Tigray forces in Amhara region. In subsequent days, clashes caused large number of deaths, and Tigray forces pushed back against assault, capturing towns including Wuchale in Amhara and Chifra on Amhara-Afar border. After moving further southward, Tigray forces 31 Oct poised to take control of Dessie and Kombolcha cities (both Amhara region). In Tigray region, federal air forces 18-28 Oct launched airstrikes on regional capital Mekelle for first time since Addis Ababa pulled out of most of Tigray in June; 20 Oct also bombed nearby Agbe town; govt said it targeted Tigray forces’ facilities, but locals reported civilian deaths. Anti-Tigrayan hate speech increased with TV journalist Mesay Mekonnen 30 Oct calling for all Tigrayans to be placed in concentration camps. Meanwhile, in Oromia region, clashes between insurgent group Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and govt forces spiked. Guji Zone saw fiercest clashes, with local officials claiming security forces killed scores of insurgents 2-6 Oct; rebels claimed 700 security forces killed and hundreds more injured in Sept-Oct, mostly in western and southern Oromia. In East Wollega Zone, unidentified attackers 10-11 Oct killed 22 civilians and displaced over 900 households; regional officials blamed OLA, while residents accused ethnic Amhara gunmen. Oromo and Amhara militias 18 Oct clashed in Horo Guduru Wollega Zone. Insecurity persisted in Benishangul-Gumuz region, with unidentified gunmen reportedly killing at least four civilians in two attacks in Metekel Zone 19 Oct. PM Abiy, sworn in 4 Oct for second term, 6 Oct reshuffled govt. After Addis Ababa late Sept expelled seven top UN officials for allegedly meddling in internal affairs, UN Sec-Gen Guterres 6 Oct denounced “unprecedented” act, demanded “evidence” of wrongdoings during UN Security Council emergency meeting.
Tigray forces’ advance faced resistance in Amhara and Afar; violence continued in Oromia and federal govt deployed reinforcements to Benishangul-Gumuz. Federal govt 9 Sept said military and Afar forces had compelled Tigray forces to withdraw from Afar region; Tigray forces denied claim, said they redeployed to neighbouring Amhara region. Large parts of Amhara’s North Wollo Zone, including Weldiya and Lalibela cities, still under Tigray forces’ control by month’s end. Amhara officials 8 Sept accused Tigray forces of having killed over 120 civilians in Chenna village near Dabat town (North Gondar Zone) 1-2 Sept – in what would be one of deadliest massacres of ten-month war; Tigray forces rejected “fabricated allegation”, as well as claims they executed dozens of civilians in and around Kobo town in North Wollo Zone starting 9 Sept. Mobilisation continued, with military graduating tens of thousands of new recruits in Sept. UN humanitarian agency 2 Sept reported less than 10% of required aid had entered Tigray region since mid-July, 1.7mn in Afar and Amhara food insecure due to war. U.S. President Biden 17 Sept allowed U.S. govt to sanction individuals and entities involved in conflict. Addis late Sept expelled seven senior UN officials, citing “meddling”. Violence increased in Oromia region following Oromo Liberation Army (OLA)’s Aug alliance with Tigray forces. OLA late Aug-early Sept claimed to have captured localities in East Wollega Zone and parts of Borana Zone from govt forces; around 22 Sept clashed with federal govt and Oromia forces in North Shewa Zone. OLA also continued attacks on civilians, reportedly killing at least 28 in Kiramu district, East Wollega Zone 16-18 Sept. Meanwhile, federal govt deployed troops from four regions to Benishangul-Gumuz region in north west after regional authorities 9 Sept accused ethnic Gumuz rebels of killing five security forces and one Chinese national in Metekel Zone previous day; attacks in Metekel have displaced hundreds of thousands since Sept 2020. Delayed parliamentary elections held 30 Sept in Somali, Harari and Southern Nations (SNNPR) regional states; voters in part of SNNPR same day voted in referendum to decide whether or not to form South Western regional state.
Amid spreading conflict across Ethiopia’s north, Tigrayan forces and federal govt intensified war rhetoric and took steps to mobilise reinforcements; clashes in centre left hundreds dead. Tigrayan forces continued to launch offensives into Amhara and Afar regions, seizing several towns and prompting thousands to flee. Federal govt 6 Aug threatened to “deploy the entire defensive capability of the state” if offensives continued, 10 Aug urged “all capable” citizens to join military effort. Tigrayan forces next day formed alliance with insurgent group Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) with stated aim of toppling federal govt. Rights abuses reported on all sides. Notably, Afar authorities accused Tigrayan forces of launching attack on displaced civilians, reportedly killing over 200, in Galicoma area 5 Aug; NGO Amnesty International 11 Aug accused Ethiopian, Eritrean troops and allied militias of using sexual violence “to terrorise, degrade, and humiliate” ethnic Tigrayans. NGO Human Rights Watch 18 Aug also reported authorities conducted arbitrary detentions and forcibly disappeared at least 23 ethnic Tigrayans, mostly on apparent basis of ethnicity, in capital Addis Ababa in June-July. U.S. development agency (USAID) 19 Aug said govt’s obstruction of humanitarian aid and personnel creates looming food aid shortages in Tigray region; govt next day denied accusations. USAID 31 Aug accused Tigrayan forces of looting its warehouses in Amhara region in previous weeks. U.S. 23 Aug warned “large numbers” of Eritrean troops had re-entered Tigray after reportedly withdrawing in June (see Eritrea). Federal govt 5 Aug rejected Sudan’s offer to mediate Tigray conflict, prompting Khartoum to recall its ambassador 8 Aug (see Sudan). In west, Benishangul-Gumuz regional govt 14 Aug said its forces had killed 170 armed “anti-peace elements” allied to Tigrayan forces who had reportedly entered from Sudan, mid-Aug also arrested 32 suspected Tigrayan forces “operatives” after they reportedly crossed from Sudan in alleged attempt to destabilise region. Meanwhile, in Oromia regional state in centre, govt-appointed Human Rights Commission 26 Aug said OLA insurgents had killed some 150 ethnic Amhara in Gida Kiremu district 18 Aug, prompting retaliatory attacks which left 60 dead next day; OLA immediately denied it had targeted civilians, said Amhara militias initiated clashes.
Tigrayan forces advanced into neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions as federal and regional state govts took steps to reinforce their military capacity, making greater instability countrywide likely in coming weeks. After capturing Tigray’s capital Mekelle from federal troops in June, Tigrayan forces 4 July set conditions for ceasefire negotiations with federal govt, including withdrawal of Eritrean troops and Amhara regional forces from Tigray, independent UN probe into alleged war crimes, and “procedures” for holding PM Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki accountable for their actions in Tigray. Tigrayan forces 12 July launched southward and westward offensives with apparent view to driving ethnic Amhara forces off disputed territory, reportedly seizing Korem and Alamata towns 12-13 July; Abiy 14 July vowed to repel Tigrayan “enemies”, effectively tearing up unilateral ceasefire declared by federal govt late June; most of country’s ten regional states in following days said they would send reinforcements. Tigrayan forces 17-19 July clashed with Afar regional forces and militias in Afar regional state, leaving at least 20 civilians killed and some 54,000 displaced; 25 July said they had seized Adi Arkay town in Amhara regional state, which latter denied; Afar and Amhara regional govts 23 and 25 July called on civilians to take up arms. Tigrayan forces mid-month allegedly abducted over a dozen Eritrean refugees in Tigray’s Adi Harush camp; Tigray leaders 22 July denied targeting Eritrean refugees. Federal authorities 30 June-2 July reportedly arrested at least 11 journalists, 15-21 July temporarily suspended license of Ethiopian magazine Addis Standard for allegedly advancing Tigray leaders’ agenda; police throughout month reportedly arbitrarily detained hundreds of ethnic Tigrayans and closed Tigrayan-owned businesses across country. Elsewhere, tensions between Afar and Somali regional states in east resumed: Somali region 27 July accused militia from neighbouring Afar region of killing hundreds of civilians in contested border area 24 July. Meanwhile, electoral commission 10 July said ruling Prosperity Party had won 410 of 436 seats in federal parliament in June elections. Tensions remained high between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt as Addis Ababa completed second filling of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (see Nile Waters).
Amid looming famine, Tigrayan forces made significant gains against federal troops in Tigray region; meanwhile, general elections held despite insecurity in several regions. Following large-scale counteroffensive against federal govt forces in Tigray regional state (north), Tigrayan forces 28 June reportedly entered regional capital Mekelle, allegedly prompting federal govt to declare “unilateral ceasefire” same day; federal govt said it had withdrawn its forces for humanitarian reasons. Tigrayan forces 29 June dismissed ceasefire as “joke”, vowed to “intensify struggle” until “enemies completely leave Tigray”; by month’s end, Tigrayan forces reportedly controlled most of region. Earlier in month, army airstrike 22 June reportedly killed dozens of civilians in Togoga village, drawing widespread condemnation; military 24 June said attack only struck Tigrayan forces. Unidentifi