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Violence flares again in Ethiopia’s war with Tigray

Health workers in the blockaded region report rising civilian toll


Tigrayan protesters in Birmingham, England Getty Images/Photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures

Violence flares again in Ethiopia’s war with Tigray

Residents of Adi Daero, Tigray, heard what sounded like a drone before an airstrike exploded in the town some 24 miles from Ethiopia’s border with Eritrea.

Aid workers and survivors said the strike hit a school that sheltered civilians displaced by the ongoing fighting in the country’s war of nearly two years. More than 50 people died, with dozens of others injured in one of the deadliest strikes in the conflict.

Reports of such attacks have risen since the conflict reignited in August between the rebels in the northern Tigray region and Eritrea-backed federal forces. The fighting has renewed efforts for a longer-lasting truce as civilians continue to bear the brunt of the damage and injuries.

Federal troops launched an offensive against the rebels from the semi-autonomous ethnic Tigray region in November 2020 after months of political tensions. The sides reached a fragile truce in March but it fell apart in August.

In a statement released on Monday, the Tigray forces said Eritrean troops had launched an “extensive offensive” heading for at least four towns in Tigray. Satellite imagery captured late last month showed a military buildup inside Eritrea near the border with Tigray. Eritreans are also reporting an extensive military call-up that has seen authorities seal homes and seize the cattle of those who refuse to serve.

Both sides of the conflict said they were open to peace talks that were set to begin last week. But authorities blamed logistical issues for the delays. Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde told lawmakers on Monday that the government has continued to push for negotiations without conditions. “This year, we must put all of our efforts to bring the war that has tested our nation to end in peace,” she said.

Meanwhile, the conflict has displaced more than 2.6 million people and cut off basic services, including medical care and water. Investigators have accused all sides of violence and of using starvation as a weapon.

Local health authorities revealed in a new study that babies in Tigray are dying in their first month of life at four times the rate before the war started. The number of mothers dying during pregnancy or within 42 days of delivery has also risen by five times the pre-war number.

William Davison, a senior analyst with International Crisis Group, explained the Ethiopian government would have to recommit to restoring some essential services to Tigray to get both sides back to the negotiating table as the toll rises.

“It’s unbelievable carnage on the battlefield, and it really brings home the fact that this conflict doesn’t get the amount of attention it deserves,” Davison said.

World Radar

THAILAND: Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered a crackdown on illegal drugs and tighter gun control following last week’s mass shooting at a day care center. The gunman was a former police officer who had been dismissed for methamphetamine possession. He killed 36 people—including 24 children, his wife, and his stepson—before fatally shooting himself. Among the new measures, Prayuth has called for authorities to step up testing for illicit drug use and to revoke gun licenses of registered owners who have demonstrated threatening behavior.

GAMBIA: At least 66 children who took cough syrup made in India have died in recent months. The World Health Organization warned on Oct. 5 that Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup, and Magrip N Cold Syrup contain contaminants. They can cause the inability to pass urine, an altered mental state, and acute kidney injury that could lead to death. Gambian authorities have ordered a recall of the products, and President Adama Barrow has promised measures to improve quality control over imported medicines, including the establishment of a lab for drugs and food safety. Indian health officials have ordered Maiden Pharmaceuticals, which manufactured the four cough syrups, to cease production.

CANADA: The Canadian government will contribute $2.9 million to help buy land on Juno Beach, where allied troops first landed in France on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The move, announced last Friday, ends a legal battle of more than two years between the Juno Beach Center—Canada’s World War II museum—and Foncim, a French developer. Foncim had planned to build condos near Juno Beach that required using the museum’s private road. But the center denied it access because the construction would wreak havoc on the museum. The Canadian government and the local town of Courseulles-Sur-Mer will purchase the land from the developer, and the town will grant the museum a 99-year lease.

INDIA: A siren above the Mohityanche Vadgaon village temple goes off daily at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., signaling a 1.5-hour digital detox for the 3,000 or so residents. The villagers in Maharashtra state turn off their televisions and cell phones during that time. The village council has implemented the initiative since mid-August in an attempt to curb TV and internet addictions. Dilip Mohite, a sugar cane farmer, told the BBC that his three school-age sons are concentrating more on their studies since cutting back on screen time, and even the adults at home are having “normal conversation.”

JAMAICA: Music and television content that promote criminal activities—such as scamming and the illegal use of drugs and weapons—are now off the air, according to the Jamaican Broadcasting Commission’s directives issued on Tuesday. As the nation struggles with high levels of violent crime, the ban is to avoid giving the “wrong impression that criminality is an accepted feature of Jamaican culture and society” particularly among “vulnerable and impressionable youth,” according to the commission. But many artists doubt the restrictions will effectively reduce violence and have criticized them as limits on free speech that also hamper artistic representation of reality.

WORLD Asia correspondent Joyce Wu contributed to this report.


Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD’s Africa reporter and deputy global desk chief. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University–Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria.

@onize_ohiks

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