Dozens of bodies were found on the banks of the Tekeze, carried by the current from Ethiopia to Sudan. Meanwhile, international aid for refugees is arriving from northern Ethiopia.
Tewodros Tefara, a Sudanese surgeon rescued from Humera, in northern Ethiopia's Tigray region, uncovered gruesome scenes. The Tekeze River, which separates Tigray from Amhara and crosses northern Ethiopia into Sudan, carried dozens of bodies. Dr Tefara claims to have already buried a dozen bodies during the week, and that Sudanese fishermen have found another XNUMX. These Tigrayan corpses had their hands tied and gunshot wounds. This suggests massive summary executions.
It remains to know the origin of the victims and their executioners. Did the executions take place in central Tigray, to the south, on the border with Amhara, or further north, on the Eritrean border? Several witnesses confirm that they are indeed Tigrayans, two corpses with "tigrinya" tattoos on their arms. Distinctive signs that indicate the victims' membership of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (FLPT).
As journalists who gained access to Tigray from Sudan for the first time since March reported the dismal discovery, humanitarian convoys into Tigray have finally started to pour in. At the helm of the aid plan: UN Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia, Martin Griffiths. USAID Administrator Samantha Power has been on the Sudanese border for two days. She also plans to go to Addis Ababa in the following days.
In Addis Ababa, UN imposes conditions
However, it seems that the two leaders are in concert. While Martin Griffiths, who arrived Thursday, July 29 in Addis Ababa, put pressure on the Ethiopian government, Samantha Power, she supervised the crossing of aid intended for Tigray.
So the Ethiopian government, after suspending Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) for three months, accused aid workers of arming the FLPT. Nevertheless, the belligerents, on the ground, have shown a willingness to cooperate with humanitarian agencies, now installed on Sudanese soil.
On the Amhara side, regional government spokesman Gizachew Muluneh confirmed that 200 refugees were in the area. As for the Ethiopian region of Afar, further east, it would have at least 000 displaced people to manage. Between the three regions - Afar, Amhara and Tigray - 57 people need emergency food aid. Thus, the UN humanitarian chief declared : “We need 100 trucks a day to meet humanitarian needs in Tigray. It is a calculated minimum, and not an overestimated figure ”. "The accusations by the Ethiopian authorities are dangerous," he added.
Martin Griffiths also said 122 trucks of humanitarian aid had entered Tigray in recent days. So either these trucks had obtained permission from Amhara and Afar from Ethiopia's side or they entered through Sudan. Anyway, it seems that faced with the advance of the FLPT, the States of Amhara and Afar authorized the humanitarian intervention, despite the refusal of Addis Ababa.
"Blanket accusations of humanitarian aid workers need to stop," said UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths, whose own two-day trip to Tigray was delayed when his plane and everyone on board were searched in a process that took five hours. @afp reports:https://t.co/8nIchdUiHk
- Nick Perry (@nickeperry) August 3
What exactly is USAID doing on the Sudano-Ethiopia border?
On the Sudanese side, American manager Samantha Power's tour took a curious turn. After a visit to Khartoum on Sunday, where she asked the Sudanese authorities to work on the unification of their army, she moved along the Sudano-Ethiopian border on Monday. So we discover that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is looking after at least three massive refugee camps on the border between Sudan and Tigray. Samantha Power said: “The United States has pushed all parties in Tigray for an immediate ceasefire in the hope that people like the Ethiopians I meet here can return home. The conflict has engendered atrocious attacks against civilians, it impacts millions (of people), it must end ”.
The surprise visit of the American diplomat to a war zone raises questions. In a statement, USAID said Samantha Power was working "independently of the Sudanese government." On the Ethiopian side, accusations against "aid workers" may well target Americans beyond the Sudanese border. This would undoubtedly explain the presence of the UN in Ethiopia and the ultimatum of Martin Griffiths. In other words, the UN official offers Addis Ababa the choice of working with the UN or seeing humanitarian aid go exclusively to Tigray. Which, given the reaction of Afar and Amhara, means that the FLPT will have the advantage of humanitarian aid in the war which now opposes it to the militias of Afar and Amhara.
After they put their gun #amhara special force came and killed them all.
2nd #CANCELLED in Affar
— FreeOromo (@oromowillbefree) July 18th, 2021
Northern Ethiopia, a no man's land
Regarding the war in Tigray, the discovery of the bodies along the Tekeze indicates that the fighting is still ongoing. The Sudanese doctor who shared the photos of the corpses said: "They were shot in the chest, abdomen, legs… and also had their hands tied." However, an Ethiopian refugee told AFP: “They tied them with a rope and they were swollen, there is no sign of beatings or bullets. But most of them were Tigrayans ”.
The Ethiopian government, for its part, considered that it was a "campaign of Tigrayan propagandists". And two local Sudanese officials from the towns of Wadd al-Hilew and Humera confirmed the doctor's statements. "We found six on Saturday, nine on Sunday and five on Monday (the bodies)," they said on condition of anonymity. Before continuing: “Some of the bodies were shot, others were mutilated, their hands were tied. Others still had no visible injuries ”. A dozen additional bodies were discovered by Tigrayan refugees near the Hamadayet camp, on the Sudanese border.
The war that broke out in November 2020 between federal Ethiopian troops and the FLPT in Tigray left 2 million refugees, half of whom are facing famine. She suffered an unexpected setback at the end of June, when the FLPT took over the capital of Tigray, Mekele. The FLPT has since pushed the Ethiopian army back across the border with Amhara and Afar. Currently, it is the two regions south of Tigray that host the fighting, now led by local militias. Stakeholders did not agree to any truce or mediation, which threatens to further destabilize Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous country.