The war in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region has led to thousands fleeing to neighboring Sudan. Around 25,000 refugees passed the border within a few days. 

The border town of Hamdayat, Sudan, is now home to thousands of refugees fleeing violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Among the estimated 8,000 who have arrived in recent days, there are parents of seven-month-old twins born prematurely, lying on a bed in a makeshift shelter. The family was forced to leave the hospital in Tigray, where they were getting medical care. 

According to the UN Refugee Agency, the conflict in Ethiopia between the federal government and the regional ruling party, the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has forced more than 20,000 people to flee to Sudan. The UN and local organizations stated that they are helping people who are fleeing the conflict.

If it wasn’t for Sudan, many would-be dead, Where do we go? If we go to Eritrea, they will slaughter us. If we go to Gonder, they will slaughter us. Where would we go if it wasn’t for Sudan?”

Qobrou Qonzou, a refugee searching for shelter in the border town of al-Fashqa, told reporters.
©UNHCR-Ariane Maxiandeau

The brutality elevated a week ago when fighters supporting the TPLF purportedly attacked a government position in what the government called an endeavor to loot weapons and equipments. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed responded by ordering airstrikes and sending in troops. The Ethiopian government says its assault is a limited military action against certain individuals of the TPLF. The TPLF says this is a battle against Tigray.

Although the military clashes, aerial bombardments got the media’s attention, there are reports against the civilians getting attacked. In Mai-Kadra, Ethiopia, Amnesty International said it has reported a mass killing of hundreds of civilians by attackers wielding knives, axes, and machetes. Amnesty International says those killed were not involved in the military operations.

“They were all, indeed, men of working age, and we were told by eyewitnesses that these were day laborers who were not involved in the ongoing military offensive. We saw scores of bodies in the videos and we’ve been told there were hundreds of people killed in this attack.”

Sam Dubberley of Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Team told VOA in a Skype interview
Ethiopian refugees who fled intense fighting in their homeland of Tigray, wait for their ration of food in the border reception centre of Hamdiyet, in the eastern Sudanese state of Kasala, on November 14, 2020. – Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, ordered military operations in Tigray last week, shocking the international community which fears the start of a long and bloody civil war. (Photo by Ebrahim HAMID / AFP) (Photo by EBRAHIM HAMID/AFP via Getty Images)

The Ethiopian government has blamed the attack on the TPLF, but they have denied involvement. The regional ruling party said the allegations are part of a continuing effort to demonize the Tigrayan people.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said the Amnesty report has not been verified. During a press briefing in Geneva on Friday, the Commissioner’s spokesperson, Rupert Colville, called for a full inquiry to determine what happened.

The United States, the United Nations, and other world dominance have demanded an end to the battling and beginning of mediation efforts– so far to no avail, as the government has restrained from any discussions with the local leaders.

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