Ethiopia conflict: Thousands flee fighting in Tigray

Thousands of Ethiopians are continuing to seek refuge in neighbouring Sudan as federal troops clash with local forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Since fighting in Tigray erupted last week, observers have expressed concerns about the attendant ethnic frictions around Ethiopia, especially given the deep-seated animosity between the minority Tigrayans and the largest majority Oromo group, from which Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed hails.

There are also widespread fears of civil war and knock-ons around the Horn of Africa region.

Only two years ago, Ethiopia reached a peace agreement with neighbouring Eritrea, for which Mr. Abiy won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, but both Addis Ababa and Asmara have long-held grudges against the ruling TPLF in Tigray.

Mr. Abiy’s government also has forces deployed in Somalia helping to combat the Al Shabaab insurgency.

Reuters quoted anonymous UN sources as saying on Wednesday that the Tigray conflict had already sent 6,000-7,000 people fleeing across the border into Sudan. Khartoum, with internal unrests of its own, is concerned that number could rise significantly, the sources said.

Forty-four-year-old Mr. Abiy, currently Africa’s youngest leader, launched operations in Tigray last week after accusing the local government there of attacking a military base and killing an undisclosed number of soldiers.

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