Fighting in Ethiopia’s Afar region has displaced more than 54,000 people, according to the region’s spokesperson.
The fighting started as forces from the neighbouring Tigray region attacked the Ethiopian National Defence Forces and Amhara regional forces stationed in Afar.
Tigray Defence Forces (TDF), who want the Ethiopian government to accept their terms before talks on a ceasefire can begin, have taken control of three districts in Afar this week, according to the region’s spokesperson Ahmed Koloyta.
The region is of strategic importance because the main road and railway linking Addis Ababa, landlocked Ethiopia’s capital, with the seaport of Djibouti run through it.
Reuters reported that Debretsion Gebremichael, leader of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) said that TDF planned to target Amhara regional forces in Afar, which has been fighting on behalf of the government.
War started in November 2020 when Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced an offensive on the TPLF, Tigray’s ruling party, and the military.
By June 2021, TPLF regained control of the region’s capital Mekelle and most of Tigray after the government withdrew soldiers. Since then, Ethiopia’s other nine regions announced they were sending forces to support the military against Tigrayan fighters.