Horn Highlights: Aid convoys reach Tigray, 26 militiamen killed in ambush in Oromia, South Sudan leaders unify command security forces

In this week’s Horn Highlights: First aid convoys reach Tigray, more aid needed; WFP states 40% of Tigray faces “extreme lack of food”; Troops mobilising at Tigray borders;  former government-appointed Tigray officials released; Asena TV says Eritrean refugees attacked in Amhara, 8 wounded;  Amhara forces kill 26 Oromo militiamen and police in ambush; Eritrea replaces ambassador to Ethiopia with Chargé d’affaires en pied, AS reports; Ethiopia and Kenya reach agreement on bilateral and regional security issues; Sudan’s Burhan threatens to expel UN Envoy; and Security deal reached in South Sudan.

Greater Horn of Africa

Ethiopia: First aid convoys enter Tigray 
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that an ICRC convoy carrying essential medical, food and water treatment supplies entered the Tigray region on 2 April 2022, the first ICRC humanitarian assistance to reach the region by road after September 2021. The World Food Programme also indicated that 20 aid trucks and a tanker of fuel were delivered to Tigray. Reuters noted it is not clear how soon the aid flow will increase, as around 100 trucks per day are needed to meet the needs. “Many people affected by the conflict in Tigray live in extremely challenging conditions, unable to access healthcare, sufficient food supplies, and basic goods and services,” said Nicolas Von Arx, head of the ICRC in Ethiopia. He added that lack of medication and medical equipment has placed enormous strain on the region’s health-care system and medical staff.

Ethiopia: Around 40% of Tigray’s population faces food insecurity
A report by the World Food Programme (WFP) says around 40 percent of the people in the Tigray region are facing an “extreme lack of food”. The assessment made by the United Nations agency shows that many people in the region are trying to use maximum coping mechanisms such as cutting their daily meals to survive hunger. “A new food security assessment portrays that nearly 40 percent of Tigrayans are suffering an extreme lack of food, after 15 months of conflict,” said the WFP. BBC reports that inside the Tigray capital of Mekelle, people are selling off their assets to buy the remaining food at inflated prices.

Ethiopia: Government troops mobilised towards the border areas of Tigray
A Bloomberg report of last week 28 March says that the Ethiopian government is mobilising and sending hundreds of military troops to areas bordering the Tigray region despite the declaration of humanitarian truce between the federal government and government of Tigray on 25 March. The mayor of Kobo town in Amhara region, Addisu Wedajo, told Bloomberg that buses carrying Ethiopian troops were seen in the town recently and this may put the agreed humanitarian truce at risk. Addisu stated that “[n]either the people nor the regional government have adopted the truce, […] There is a fear that we will be at risk if the federal forces move, so everyone is holding their ground.” On 22 March, the President of the Amhara regional state also said that there is a plan to increase the number of federal and regional forces. “The Ethiopia National Defence Force (ENDF) is now in training in order to carry this out. It has been engaged in organising, training and strengthening itself,” the President said, adding: “[t]he Amhara region is building a very large force.” 

Ethiopia: Arrested former government-appointed Tigray officials released
A report by Reuters says the Ethiopian government has released several former Tigray officials, including those appointed by the government and ruling prosperity party. On 18 March, the government appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said that at least eight former ethnic Tigrayan officials were arrested. A lawyer told the Reuters that all of the arrested officials were released and were sent back to Addis Ababa from Afar, where they had been detained.

Ethiopia: Eritrean refugees in the Amhara region attacked by armed group
A report by Asena Television says Eritrean refugees in the Amhara region were attacked by an unknown armed group and at least eight refugees were shot and wounded. According to Asena, most of the refugees were moved from Adi-Harush and May-Ayni refugee camps following the conflict in Tigray region and settled to a newly established camp near the town of Dabat in the Northern Gondar Zone of the Amhara region.

Ethiopia: Ambush on militia kills 26 and injures 15
On Tuesday 29 March, 26 people were killed and 15 injured in an ambush on a militia vehicle in the Oromia region, local officials said. The Oromo officials believe gunmen from the neighbouring Amhara region were behind the attack. Attacks between the two regions over territory are common, as the two areas contain Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups, according to Reuters. The ambushed vehicle was carrying about 100 militiamen. “This is the first time we have seen such a well-orchestrated attack in our area,” said local administrator Frezer Abera. A spokesperson for the Amhara regional government did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters

Ethiopia/Eritrea: Eritrea replaces ambassador to Ethiopia with Chargé d’affaires en pied, says AS
Addis Standard (AS) reports that Eritrea has replaced the Ambassador of Eritrea to Ethiopia with a Chargé d’affaires en pied, which is a permanent head of mission, but of lower rank than an ambassador. The incoming official, Biniam Berhe, presented his letter of credence on 30 March, reports AS. It also reports that the new envoy of Ethiopia to Eritrea, Ambassador Fikadu Beyen, has not yet had his letter of credence accepted by Eritrea.

Ethiopia/Kenya: Cooperation agreement on bilateral and regional security issues reached
According to a report by the Addis Standard, Ethiopia and Kenya have reached a new agreement on peace and security as part of strengthening bilateral relationships. In a meeting with his Kenyan counterpart in Nairobi on 30 March, the Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF), Field Marshal Berhanu Jula, said that there are favourable circumstances and opportunities for Ethiopia and Kenya to work together in areas of peace and security as well as training. General Robert Kariuki Kibochi, Chief of Kenyan Defence Forces also said: “Our countries have been friends for a long time and we need to strengthen this.” They also agreed to take a leading role in strengthening the East Africa Standby Force (EASF).

Sudan: Burhan threatens to kick out UN Envoy
Reuters reports that the military leader of Sudan, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, threatened to expel United Nations special envoy Volker Perthes. Perthes is accused of overstepping his mandate. Perthes gave an update to the UN Security Council, in which he commented, among other things, about the violence against protesters in Sudan and the economic situation. Perthes is involved in consultations about transition in Sudan. Meanwhile, another protester was killed on Thursday in renewed demonstrations in Khartoum. 

South Sudan: A security deal between the President and the Vice-President
On Sunday 3 April, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar reached an agreement on the establishment of a unified command of the armed forces, one of the central issues blocking the implementation of the 2018 peace agreement, says France 24. Tensions between the two men have recently been heightened as Machar accused President Salva Kiir of violating the peace agreement, ABC News reported. The security deal is therefore a “necessary step… that paves the way for a stable government of the Republic of South Sudan”, according to the minister of presidential affairs, Barnaba Marial Benjamin. In 2013, the conflict erupted following Kiir’s accusation that Machar was planning a coup, resulting in nearly 400,000 people losing their lives and several million being forcibly displaced by 2018, according to France 24

World/Rwanda: A day to remember the horrors of genocide
7 April is the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, which commemorates the killing of between 500,000 and 662,000 people from the Tutsi ethnic group over a period of approximately 100 days. The killings were paired with sexual violence. On Thursday 7 April, Rwanda and the UN are organising a commemoration ceremony in Geneva, which can also be followed online. The ceremony starts at 3PM CEST.

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