Horn Highlights: Sudanese soldiers killed in clashes, France repatriates nationals, video of ENDF equipment handover geolocated

In this week Horn highlights: Sudanese soldiers killed in clashes with Ethiopia, says Sudanese military; ENDF forces advance in Afar; France repatriates its nationals from Ethiopia; Civilians organised to patrol Addis Ababa; Addis Ababa University warns people against supporting TPLF; Ethiopian ministry says 1.2 million children not going to school; Reuters report on cultural heritage under threat in Ethiopia; World Oromo Congress publishes a roadmap for a peaceful transition; video of ENDF handover of equipment verified and geolocated. 

Greater Horn of Africa

Ethiopia/Sudan: Six Sudanese soldiers reported killed in clashes with the Ethiopian army
At least 6 Sudanese soldiers have been killed in clashes with the Ethiopian army on the border between both countries at Al-Fashaqa, says the Sudan Tribune. According to reports, Ethiopian troops entered 17 km into the disputed territory between Ethiopia and Sudan. While the Lt-Colonel Ibrahim Al-Houri said that six soldiers had been killed, other military sources told the Sudan Tribune that around 21 were killed. The contacts also say that the artillery was used in the fight, and that it lasted seven hours. A spokesperson for the Ethiopian government said that action was taken against “a large group of insurgents, bandits and terrorists” entering from Sudan. According to Ethiopia, they are aligned with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Ethiopia denies that it has engaged Sudanese Forces. 

Ethiopia: ENDF captures town in Afar
The Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) has advanced in Afar against the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF), recapturing Chifra. Chifra is a town not far from Mille, an area the TDF has been fighting hard to capture. A video of Prime Minister Abiy has been released by the Ethiopian government. It reportedly shows the prime minister on the battlefield. 

Ethiopia: France announces repatriation of French nationals
France has announced that it will start the repatriation of French Nationals from Ethiopia. The European and Foreign Affairs Ministry has announced that it had chartered a flight to “facilitate the departure of our compatriots.” The flight is fully paid for. There are over a 1000 French nationals living in Ethiopia. The French Embassy issued a warning on 23 November calling on French citizens to leave without delay. One French citizen told France 24 that “only embassy workers, journalists and teachers are left – and the teachers should be leaving soon, as well”. Other countries, including the US and UK, have also been issuing calls for nationals to leave the country. 

Ethiopia: Civilians organised to help police the city
Civilians in Addis Ababa have been organised into groups to patrol the capital. According to Reuters, these men, armed with sticks, search pedestrians and cars. Among other things, they are looking for Tigrayan spies in the city. The police chief said that 2000 people have received additional training and are assisting police in directing the police to suspects. There are fears that they are targeting ethnic Tigrayans. There have been numerous reports that Tigrayans have been rounded up, and imprisoned. A French national that works in Ethiopia and has just been repatriated, has told France TV that he is concerned about his Tigrayan colleagues in Addis Ababa. He told them that “almost all of the Ethiopians at the company I worked for knew someone arrested in a roundup or taken God knows where. “ He added that while he was not afraid for himself, he is “afraid for Tigrayans.”

 Ethiopia: Addis Ababa University warns against supporting TPLF
The Addis Ababa University has issued a warning to graduates, calling on them not to support the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). According to the Addis Standard, the university has threatened to revoke degrees of offending individuals. The University simultaneously called on “Western countries” to stop pressuring Ethiopia. 

Ethiopia: Ministry says 1.2 million children missing school
The Ethiopian Ministry of Education has revealed that over 1.2 million students in Ethiopia are currently not going to school due to conflict. It has also stated that 1.600 schools were damaged, and 300 completely destroyed. Additionally, four universities in Tigray and one in Amhara have been forced to close. 

Ethiopia: Europe concerned about deteriorating situation in Ethiopia
A European diplomat has told EURACTIV that the situation in Ethiopia is becoming “dramatic” . According to the European diplomat, “the EU has so far stayed silent.” The EU is increasingly concerned about the deteriorating situation, and that there is no sign of the end of the conflict. The bloc is currently considering sanctions on political and military figures. 

Ethiopia: Cultural heritage under threat
The conflict in Ethiopia has taken its toll on Ethiopian cultural heritage, according to a Reuters report. The news organization has identified four major sides that are threatened by the war. These include Axum, the Al Nejashi Mosque, and the Debre Damo monastery in Tigray, and Lalibela in Amhara. Several of these monuments have been damaged, including Al Nejashi mosque and Debre Damo, which were both shelled by Eritrean and Ethiopian forces. 

Ethiopia: World Oromo Congress publishes negotiation roadmap
The World Oromo Congress has published a “roadmap to a Post Prosperity Party Political Dispensation”. In it, it lays out a proposal for a negotiated settlement to the conflict and a transition of government. In it it includes the preconditions for negotiations, as well as their post-negotiation concerns. Among its stated goals should be the capacity of every nation in Ethiopia to use its rights of self determination.  Among their concerns is that “Ethiopia today meets the criteria for categorizing it as a “deeply divided society.”” It calls for any transition rests on five pillars, namely security, justice, socio-economic development, political transition, and human rights, justice, and reconciliation. As a first step it calls for the release of prisoners, end of military operations, restoration of public services, and ending demonization of certain groups. 

Ethiopia: Video of Ethiopian forces handing over equipment to Eritrea geolocated
A video has been published showing what is allegedly Ethiopian forces handing over military equipment to Eritrea on 5 November 2020. Matt Williams says he has analysed the video as “part of my OSINT bellingcat homework”. He also confirmed that the video is authentic. Williams has been able to corroborate the location of the video being Mutuki. He also says that analysis suggests that the video was taken around 7 am. He adds that satellite imagery shows increased activity in the area around November 5-7th. Lastly he identifies the soldiers on the video as being Ethiopian, speaking Amharic, and that other soldiers in the video also speak Tigrinya, a common language spoken in Eritrea. The video could provide greater understanding of the start of the conflict.