Horn Highlights: Millions severely food-insecure in Tigray, conditions for national dialogue, UN visits Eritrea

Horn  Highlights: Millions severely food-insecure in Tigray, conditions for national dialogue, UN visits Eritrea

In this week’s Horn Highlights: WFP finds severe food insecurity in Tigray, UNSC meets on Tigray, Ethiopian Airlines employees are fleeing Ethiopia; OLA and Oromo organisations set conditions for participation in National Dialogue; Ethiopian PM visits UAE; Prediction that the Ethiopian conflict will last at least two years; UN delegation visit to Eritrea appears to strengthen ties; Sudanese protester killed in continued protests.

Ethiopia: WFP assessment finds severe food insecurity in the Tigray region
A comprehensive assessment by the World Food Programme (WFP) found that 37% of the Tigray population is severely food insecure, meaning that they sometimes go a day or more without food. This amounts to at least 2 million people. Two-thirds of pregnant or breastfeeding women and 13% of children are suffering from malnutrition, according to the assessment. The assessment was based on 980 interviews with households between mid-November and mid-December 2021, and included only households in accessible areas. This means that the inaccessible areas are likely to be in a worse state. Due to the ongoing aid blockade, the current situation is believed to be even worse. An earlier report by the Tigray region health bureau states that nearly 1,500 people died due to malnutrition over four months last year, including over 350 young children. Head of the bureau, Hagos Godefay, says 5,421 deaths were confirmed in Tigray between July and October in an assessment conducted by the bureau and international aid groups. It was the first such assessment since the war between Tigray and Ethiopian forces began in November 2020.

Ethiopia: UNSC meets to discuss conflict in Tigray
The United Nations Security Council discussed the conflict in Ethiopia during any other business on 27 January. The key focus of the meeting was likely the humanitarian situation in Northern Ethiopia. Little other information on the meeting is available. According to the Addis Standard, the UNSC also discussed the presence of illegal weapons trafficking and the presence of “informal forces connected to the activities of the Tigrayan forces.”

Ethiopia: Employees of Ethiopian Airlines fleeing the country
A recent CNN investigation revealed that some Tigrayan-origin employees of Ethiopian Airlines, Ethiopia’s national airline company, are fleeing the country by hiding in the planes they work on. The employees felt threatened by Ethiopian authorities due to arrests of their family members. Two ground technicians told CNN that their family members had been arrested under the state of emergency laws that have targeted Tigrayans and they feared that it was their turn next. The pair are not the only employees to attempt a risky escape in recent weeks. In December last year, two other employees of the airline concealed themselves in a passenger aircraft destined for Washington DC, US.

Ethiopia: OLA and Oromo organisations indicate conditions for national dialogue 
The Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), one of the groups that has aligned themselves with the Tigrayan forces, has issued a statement in which the group says that while Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is promoting a national dialogue, he is simultaneously actively pursuing a war and preventing aid from reaching to affected areas.They further say that the preconditions that they set out to participate in the national dialogue have not been met. They argue that if PM Abiy is not willing to provide unimpeded access for aid, or prevent Eritrean forces from operating in Ethiopia, then the promise of a national dialogue is an empty one. Earlier, 63 Oromo organisations outlined their roadmap for the starting of an inclusive national dialogue; such as a neutral convener.

Ethiopia: PM Abiy visits the UAE
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited the United Arab Emirates on Saturday. While there, he met with Abu Dhabi’s crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The UAE has been accused of providing a significant amount of military material to the Ethiopian army, including drones. 

Ethiopia: Insecurity Insight predicts conflict will last at least a further two years
A new report by Insecurity Insight says that a ceasefire unilaterally declared by the Ethiopian government and the Tigrayan forces separately in December, seems to be holding. Sporadic fighting and drone strikes by the Ethiopian government have however continued. Insecurity Insights is also reporting that the Ethiopian ENDF Deputy chief of staff, Abebaw Tadesse, said that an offensive is being planned. Gen. Abebaw Tadesse said that Tigray is Ethiopian territory and would be taken back. The organisation predicts that the blockade against humanitarian aid to Tigray will continue. Insecurity Insight further believes that the current stalemate will likely continue for a further two years, while the rhetoric, and continued search for a diplomatic solution, continues.  Insecurity Insight also reports that the scale of airstrikes and drone strikes has increased. One aid worker was killed by a drone strike last December. They however also do not believe that the Ethiopian military has the capabilities to continue drone and airstrikes over a long term. As such they believe that strikes will start focusing more on cities within six months.

Eritrea: 24-person UN delegation visits Eritrea
United Nations officials visited Eritrea for a five-day visit. Twenty-four UN officials visited and met with members of the Eritrean government. The officials came from UN offices across Africa, and included several regional directors. In a press release, they say they discussed among other things fully utilizing the UN’s resources to ensure optimal delivery in the new cooperation framework’s priority areas”; “regional dynamics in the Horn of Africa and the role Eritrea could play in fostering peace and security” and regional trade integration and a African continental free trade agreement. Following the meeting members of the delegation were “unanimous in their view that they had gained a better understanding of Eritrea’s context” and had gained better insight for future cooperation with Eritrea. This high-level visit builds on an earlier visit by the UN’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa last month. 

Sudan: Number of protestors killed mounts to 79
Sudanese Security forces have killed another student during demonstrations in Khartoum on Sunday. The death was confirmed by the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors. Protests continue to take place in Sudan against the coup that took place on 25 October 2021, despite the ban on protests. The demonstrators demand that a full civilian government be instated. Mediation efforts are struggling to find a compromise – protesters demand a fully civilian government in order to lead the country to democratic elections, and the immediate removal from power of the military generals.

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