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11/09/2020 Ethiopia (International Christian Concern) –  As tensions in Ethiopia’s Tigray region escalated over the weekend, humanitarians and observers around the world, including the United Nations, called attention to the impact of the conflict may have on the region’s civilian population. At under 5% of Ethiopia’s total population, Tigray is home to some 5 million individuals. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that over 10% of that number are currently in need of food aid, with others warning that number could increase significantly if the conflict continues.

The conflict stems over demands by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a political party, that the Tigray region be given autonomy from the rest of Ethiopia. The TPLF had, until recently, ruled the country and, in September, held regional elections in defiance of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s insistence that all elections be postponed until 2021.

The escalation from unauthorized election to armed conflict began last week with federal troops amassing at the Tigray border and regional troops raiding a federal military base for arms. Since then, the conflict has reportedly claimed hundreds of lives on both sides and led to sustained airstrikes on the region.

Ahmed has shuffled the top tiers of the federal government, replacing the sitting foreign minister, head of intelligence, and army chief with his close allies. Ahmed heads a coalition government and is seen as consolidating his power in response to the events in Tigray.

ICC continues to monitor this situation and others in the country. The violence in Ethiopia appears to be political and ethnic in nature. It is unclear whether there are any undertones of religious persecution. But whatever the underlying cause, innocent civilians are dying and the government has not taken sufficient steps to protect its citizens.