By Vatican News staff writer
Tigrayan forces have launched a new offensive in the conflict-ridden northern region of the country, two weeks after the government declared a unilateral ceasefire in the face of rebel advances.
The rebel forces on Tuesday said that they had seized the town of Alamata, a major center in southern Tigray, after launching their latest assault on Monday.
The fresh fighting follows claims by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to be pushing to take back more territory into land claimed by neighbouring Amhara region, prompting its leaders who are allies of the central government to urge local militia to arm themselves and mobilize.
This latest offensive raises concerns that the Tigrayan advance and the possible response from Amhara may further increase the widening conflict that has aggravated ethnic and political divisions in the country located in the horn of Africa.
Conflict in Tigray Region
In recent times, Tigrayan forces have renewed their offensive again, shocking Ethiopian authorities last month by retaking the regional capital Mekelle from government forces loyal to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who came into power in 2018.
War broke out last November between Tigray's ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), and Ethiopian government forces, the result of deep rancour between the old regime and the new Ahmed-led regime.
The government declared victory three weeks after the conflict began when it seized Mekelle, but TPLF kept fighting and now controls most of Tigray. However, some parts in the west and south are also claimed by the Amhara who are allies of the Ethiopian military.
In the eight months since the conflict began, thousands have died, more than 4 million people have come dependent on humanitarian aid and nearly 2 million people have been displaced.
Separately, on Tuesday, the UN rights council approved a resolution expressing concern about abuses in the Tigray region and calling for the withdrawal of Eritrean troops who support the government against the Tigrayan forces and are “exacerbating the conflict.”
The UN resolution also called for “an immediate halt to all human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law”.
Tuesday’s resolution was presented by the EU who hailed a unilateral ceasefire declared by Ethiopian authorities last month. The EU, however, expressed concern at reports of widespread abuses in the region, including civilian killings and sexual violence.
For months, both Eritrea and Ethiopia had denied the presence of Eritrean forces in the conflict in Tigray but Prime Minister Ahmed finally admitted their involvement in March, and said that they would withdraw.