Ethiopian war has drastically pulled huge humanitarian crisis in the region. The controversial Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is urging able-bodied men and women to join a military campaign.
The Ethiopian leader came to power preaching unity and was praised for being a beacon of hope. He also struck a landmark peace deal with the longtime crisis I Eritrea that gave him an upper hand thereby winning him the support of international peace agencies globally.
Another Remarkable achievement was that the prime minister released thousands of political prisoners, lifted restrictions on the press and promised to overturn decades of repressive authoritarian rule.
Following all these outstanding accomplishments, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. An achievement not owned by many presidents in the world with him being the latest to win this prestigious award on the African continent.
Despite all the historic achievements, Ethiopia is battling an ethnic cleansing in a devastating civil war. Abiy has embarked on a radically different track, stoking war fever and urging all able-bodied men and women to join a widening military campaign, either as combatants or in support roles.
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Defense has not said how many new recruits it has signed up, but the spokesperson for Sintayehu Abate, deputy mayor of Addis Ababa, the capital, has said that 3,000 residents of the city have enlisted since the campaign started and that thousands more have reportedly signed up around the country.
The prime ministers request has been denounced by many latest saying the injection of fresh recruits into the fighting will only lead to more bloodshed in the deeply polarised and ethnically divided nation, potentially destabilizing the wider Horn of Africa causing a dire humanitarian emergency.
Over the past nine months of conflict, thousands of people have been killed and some two million have been displaced, while hundreds of thousands of others face famine conditions amid reports of massacres, sexual assault and ethnic cleansing.
The conflict started last November, when Abiy ordered a military offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, onetime rebels who led Ethiopia with an iron fist from 1991 until Abiy’s ascent in 2018. He accused the group of attacking a federal military base and trying to steal weapons.
This led to a faster escalation of the war with militia fighters from the Amhara region to the south and Eritrean troops from the north joining the Ethiopian military against the Tigrayan forces.
Since then, Ethiopian authorities have ramped up mass recruitment drives, calling on popular musicians and artists to galvanize the war effort.
Last week, the military posted photos from the town of Debark in the northern Amhara region where young men wielding machetes, guns and sticks studded with nails rallied in support of the war and enlisted in droves.
In the eastern city of Jigjiga, hundreds of men, women and some children attended a rally to support government forces.
As the recruitment drive has gotten underway, rebel forces have continued to advance in western Tigray, an area that ethnic Amharas historically claim as their own and took over in the early stages of the conflict. Heavy fighting, including artillery fire, has been reported in the Amhara, Oromia and Afar regions.
This month the Oromo Liberation Army, designated a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian government, declared an alliance with the Tigrayan forces, raising the prospect of other splinter groups or regional governments becoming involved in the fighting.
The president of eastern Somali region Mustafa Omer, has sent hundreds of soldiers to join the war on the government side. He has however said that he would never negotiate with the TPLF, which he said had tortured and killed his brother and made other family members disappear in its authoritarian, nearly three-decade time in power.
The United Nations has said physical access to Tigray remains limited because of lack of infrastructure, floods and security concerns. Underscoring the grim conditions, Samantha Power, the head of the US Agency for International Development, said last week that aid workers were running out of food to distribute.
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