Horn Highlights: Ethiopian general vows to eliminate Tigray forces, Eritrean refugees dying in camps, Hemedti meets Ethiopian officials

In this week’s Horn Highlights: Ethiopian general threatens elimination of Tigray forces as tensions build; Witnesses say Somali troops committed atrocities while embedded amidst Eritrean troops in Tigray; Sudan’s Hemedti meets with Ethiopian officials; Eritrean refugees in Tigray dying of preventable causes, says UNHCR; Humanitarian supplies in Tigray critically low; Protests in Sudan continue as demands fail to be met; Ethiopia delays publishing inflation data as inflation hits high point.

Ethiopia: Ethiopian General claims there will be no negotiation, Tigray forces to be eliminated
Ethiopian deputy army chief General Abebaw Tadesse has made comments to state-affiliated media outlet Fana broadcasts on Friday, indicating that Ethiopia’s military would “eliminate” the Tigray forces. In the interview, the general stated that “Tigray is part of Ethiopia and no force will stop us from entering [Mekelle]. We will enter and we will eliminate the enemy. There shouldn’t be any confusion  about this.”  The general added that the war was not over, but that the Ethiopian army is simply preparing, and that there will be no negotiations. Meanwhile, sources report that training and recruiting on all sides continues, and that clashes are ongoing at the border of Tigray as well as in Oromia, while the tensions remain very high. 

Ethiopia: Somali troops committed atrocities in Tigray, say witnesses
Globe and Mail has published a report about new revelations regarding atrocities by Somali soldiers in Ethiopia’s Tigray war. The report is based on eyewitness accounts of massacres committed by Somali troops embedded with Eritrean forces in Tigray in the early months of the war. Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia have previously denied that Somali troops have been deployed and were cooperating in the Tigray war. Globe and Mail speaks of dozens of witnesses from six Tigrayan villages, who witnessed the killing of civilians, including clergymen. The troops had been stationed in the villages between early December, 2020 and late February, 2021. Although the Somali soldiers were wearing Eritrean uniforms, the witnesses said they could recognise them easily, because of their physical appearance and language, as well as the fact that Eritrean troops were overheard identifying them as Somalis. Former and current Ethiopian officials also told Globe and Mail that the total number of Somali soldiers deployed was up to 10,000. 

Ethiopia/Sudan: Sudan’s Hemedti meets with Ethiopian defense minister
Member of the ruling Council of Sudan, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, also known as Hemedti, met with Ethiopian defense minister Abraham Belay and other Ethiopian officials during the weekend. Sudanese state news agency SUNA reported Hemedti was also met by high-ranking officials at the airport. Hemedti is head of the feared Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The visit comes amidst border tensions between the two countries. 

Ethiopia: Eritrean refugees die due to deteriorating conditions, says UNHCR
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) made its first visit in several weeks to Adi Harush and Mai Aini, two refugee camps for Eritrean refugees in Tigray. The UN said it was “deeply alarmed” by the situation. Due to the deteriorating conditions, food and water is insufficient, and the clinics have closed down, whilst medicine is lacking. The UNHCR says that this has already led to 20 preventable deaths in the last six weeks alone. 

Ethiopia: Critically low humanitarian aid supplies in Tigray
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) reports that food and fuel levels in Tigray are at the lowest levels recorded since the start of the conflict. The critical levels of supplies has led to only 10.000 people in Tigray receiving aid in the week of 6-12 January. OCHA says 870.000 people need to be reached each week for targets to be met. Only 10% of the supplies, or 1.338 trucks, needed have entered the region since July 2021. OCHA estimates that 100 trucks are needed daily to reach 5.2 million people in need of aid. According to the OCHA update, no new staff members have been approved to come to Tigray since October either. OCHA also reported its data for aid delivered to Amhara. In the same week, 578.000 people were reached in Amhara. 2.1 million people have been reached with aid, since the launch of the 5th round of distribution on 20 December. In Tigray, where twice as many people are in need of aid, only 495.000 people have been reached in the last three months combined. Meanwhile, Tigray government spokesperson Getachew Reda, stated on Twitter that 27 trucks of the World Food Programme were blocked by Afar forces when they tried to enter Tigray, despite being cleared. 

Sudan: Sudan’s Sovereign Council issues statement
Several media report on a statement by the Transitional Sovereign Council of Sudan, the military-dominated ruling council, that indicates, it will agree to the formation of a government led by a civilian Prime Minister once the transitional period is over at the beginning of 2024. The Council also states it is ready to ensure elections can take place at the end of this period. Protesters, however, are demanding the immediate transition of power to a civilian government to oversee the transition period until democratic elections can take place. Thousands of protesters took to the streets on Monday; they were met with teargas. Meanwhile, the deadly protests of last week Monday claimed an eighth life as a previously wounded person died on Friday.   

Ethiopia: Inflation at 13-year high
Ethiopia has delayed the publication of its monthly inflation data, states Reuters. This is highly unusual according to experts, with an Ethiopian journalist telling Reuters that in the six years he has worked on that data, he has never seen such a delay. Inflation in Ethiopia has been rising sharply recently, topping 34% in September and October 2021. It is the highest inflation rate since 2008.