Thousands Flee Ethiopia To Sudan As Tigray Conflict Escalates
As Tigray conflict escalates, thousands of Ethiopian refugees poured into Sudan, escaping a worsening conflict that has spilled over the country’s borders.
Experts have warned that if care is not taken, the conflict will destabilize the wider Horn of Africa region.
The United Nations refugee agency said on Sunday that more than 20,000 people have crossed into Sudan from Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, where federal government troops are battling forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party of the regional government.
Sudanese state media put the number of refugees at almost 25,000, Aljazeera reports.
The leader of the TPLF Debretsion Gebremichael said on Sunday that his forces fired a volley of rockets at neighbouring Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, late on Saturday.
He also claimed that 16 Eritrean military divisions are fighting alongside the Ethiopian government troops against the TPLF forces – an assertion that both the governments in Addis Ababa and Asmara have denied.
Debretsion said: “Those who attack Tigray will not just attack and return home. We will retaliate while they are here, and strike the airports from which they launched attacks.
“There is no place that we can’t reach and we will continue to attack selected targets that the invading forces are using against us.”
Although it was not possible to determine whether the rockets fired into Asmara had caused any casualties (Eritrea is one of the world’s most reclusive states), the attack marked a major escalation in the almost two-week war that has killed hundreds of people.
According to Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow, the escalation taking the conflict to a whole new level, as it has spilled across the borders of Ethiopia, and now another country, Eritrea, is about to be sucked in.
The governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed in 2018 to end decades of hostilities – a deal that resulted in Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed winning the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
However, there is still a deep-seated animosity between Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki’s government and the battle-hardened TPLF over the devastating 1998-2000 Ethiopian-Eritrean border conflict, in which some 70,000 people died.