Updated Aug 24, 2022 - World

Fighting breaks out in Ethiopia's Tigray region

Truck drivers carry bottles of water
Truck drivers prepare to leave in an aid convoy to Ethiopia's Tigray region on May 15. Photo: Michele Spatari/AFP via Getty Images

Fighting erupted in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region on Wednesday between government forces and the Tigray People's Liberation Front, ending a months-long ceasefire.

Driving the news: Both sides blamed each other for the outbreak in fighting, with each saying the other had attacked first, Reuters reported.

  • The violence is a significant blow to mediation efforts and comes after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said last week that Tigrayan authorities were "refusing to accept peace talks," AP reported.
  • A letter dated Tuesday and signed by Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael stated that Tigray leaders had conducted two rounds of direct talks with government forces but that “unacceptable conditions have been inserted into the peace process" and urged intervention by the international community, AP reported, noting the letter had been shared with them.
  • A ceasefire between the two sides had been announced in March, per Reuters.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said Wednesday that he was “deeply shocked and saddened by the news of the resumption of hostilities," the UN tweeted.

  • "Ethiopians, Tigrayans, Amharas, Oromos, Afars have already suffered too much. My strong appeal is for an immediate cessation of hostilities & resumption of peace talks," Guterres added.

The big picture: Fighting broke out in Ethiopia's Tigray region in November 2020 and has led to what the UN has described as a de facto aid blockade.

  • WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned in March that roughly 6 million people in Tigray had been "sealed off from the outside world" for almost 500 days due to a blockade by Ethiopian forces and their Eritrean allies.
  • Last week, Tedros said that the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict in the Tigray is the "worst disaster on Earth" and that the lack of urgency the international community has shown in responding to it was perhaps due to "the color of the skin of the people in Tigray."
  • The conflict has spilled over into neighboring regions and prompted widespread outcry over a dire humanitarian situation.
  • There have been credible reports of ethnic cleansing and of the government using starvation as a weapon of war, Axios' Zachary Basu writes.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

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