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12/04/2020 Ethiopia (International Christian Concern) –  After weeks of fighting with regional forces over control of its northern Tigray region, the Ethiopian government has declared a military victory. The announcement came as federal troops overtook the Tigrayan capital city of Mekele. However, Tigrayan leaders made little effort to resist Mekele’s capture and insist that the conflict will continuing in a less centralized manner. With an estimated 200,000+ troops it seems likely that they will make good on this threat in the coming weeks and months.

Whatever happens on the military front in Tigray, though, it is critical that both sides give access to humanitarian organizations.

This week, the Ethiopian government finally reached an agreement with the United Nations allowing its humanitarian arm access to government-controlled areas in the Tigray region. This comes after weeks of stalling on this front and after what is now a month-long government-mandated power and communications blackout in the region.

Before the conflict even started, 96,000 Eritrean refugees were residing in northern Tigray near the Eritrean border. An estimated 45,000 Ethiopians fled across Tigray’s western border with Sudan. In addition, both sides have been credibly accused of mass atrocities against the civilian population during the conflict. These claims have, thus far, been difficult to verify given the communications blackout in the region.

It is essential that all sides of the conflict take serious steps towards addressing the humanitarian crisis in the region.