Ethiopian, Eritrean forces accused of detaining hundreds in Tigray

Thursday May 27 2021
Pro-Tigray protesters

Ethiopians from the Tigray region hold placards while they gather and protest outside the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in Pretoria, South Africa, on November 25, 2020. PHOTO | AFP

By Nation Team

Eritrean and Ethiopian forces forcibly rounded-up more than 500 young men and women from four camps in Tigray's Shire town on Monday night, three aid workers and a doctor told news agency Reuters.

According to an aid worker, several men were beaten, their phones taken and money confiscated. One individual who lived in one of the camps and who was hiding at the time of the incident said soldiers stormed the camp at night and broke into the main entrance and beat up anyone they came across.

The witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that hundreds of IDPs who had been sheltered at Tsehaye Primary School were forcibly taken during the midnight raid.

On Tuesday, sources from the region also confirmed the incident to Nation.Africa and put the number of those abducted at at least 550.

Tewodros Aregay, interim head of the Northwest Zone, confirmed Reuters that he had some information but said “hundreds” had been taken.

After the incident, many people including young women left the camps over fear that similar attacks could recur, a source told Nation.Africa


It is not yet clear why the soldiers raided the camps at night and detained such a large number of IDPs.

"What has happened last night at the camps in Tigray is a mass abduction," claimed the Tigriyan activist who declined to be named.

Monday night's round-up came just hours after a news report by The Telegraph that implicated Ethiopian and Eritrean forces in using banned chemical weapons in Tigray, a move Ethiopia has vehemently denied. 

The Telegraph report said "civilians in northern Ethiopia have suffered horrific burns consistent with the use of white phosphorus", a potential war crime.

Ethiopia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement condemning the allegations as "dangerous and irresponsible".

"Ethiopia has not employed, and will never use, such banned munitions because it takes its international obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention extremely seriously" the statement said.

"As a country that has been attacked by chemical weapons, Ethiopia opposes the use of chemical weapons by anyone, in any country."