The Tigray war: when a Nobel Peace Prize winner launches a brutal offensive against civilians in Ethiopia

Three weeks ago, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attacked the last remnants of the old order in the north of the country, dragging the civilian population into a new humanitarian crisis.

Why the remote Tigray region, in the extreme north of Ethiopia became a headline in all the world’s media? Three weeks ago, war It exploded in this impoverished corner of the planet, and this Wednesday the Ethiopian Prime Minister, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Abiy Ahmed promises to launch a military offensive that will not contemplate any “mercy” towards civilians, if they do not move away in time.

International calls for Ahmed to desist from his offensive fell on deaf ears. The premier asked that the world not interfere in the internal affairs of his country.

The epicenter of this war in Tigray, is Humera.

Located in northwestern Ethiopia, on the borders of Sudan and Eritrea, Humera was one of the first targets of the military offensive launched on November 4 by Ahmed against the Tigray and its leaders.

Abiy, the youngest African leader, accuses the Tigray forces, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), of having triggered the war by attacking two army bases federal, which the TPLF denies.

The conflict came suddenly to Humera with tremendous artillery fire.

The government declared her released from the rebels without detailing the destruction and ruins that line the streets. The electricity cut off. The horror of its inhabitants at the fall of the bombs. And the uncertainty about the future.

Two charred tanks of the Federal Army lie at the entrance to Humera, a gloomy town of low houses.

After intense fighting against the forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party that leads the region and defied the federal government for months, the town was declared “liberated” on November 12.

Humera, home to some 30,000 people, bears the scars of those combats: a huge hole appears in the facade of the Africa Hotel, and the surrounding houses are riddled with bullets.

“We were not expecting those bombings,” says Getachew Berhane, a 42-year-old resident. “Suddenly we began to hear the weapons of war, the explosions, and then we panicked.”

“I couldn’t leave my house, I was terrified,” he says.

Some of Humera’s inhabitants are among the first Ethiopians to take refuge in neighboring Sudan, where there are currently about 36,000. And people continue to flee, in the face of the ultimatum that expires this Wednesday and the threat of fierce retaliation.

An inhabitant claims to know at least ten people in his neighborhood who died, but the AFP, which toured the area, was not authorized to visit the hospital to try to establish a balance of the fighting.

Now the fighting has shifted towards the this mountainous which houses the regional capital Mekele, the final target of the offensive, from which the federal government wants to expel the TPLF and replace it with “legitimate institutions.”

On Sunday, Abiy gave the TPLF leaders 72 hours to surrender, under the threat of a merciless attack against this city of half a million inhabitants.

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