Clashes Erupt in Disputed Raya Alamata District, Displacing Thousands

Violent clashes in Ethiopia's disputed Raya Alamata district displace thousands, raising fears of escalating conflict in the region.

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Trim Correspondents
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Clashes Erupt in Disputed Raya Alamata District, Displacing Thousands

Clashes Erupt in Disputed Raya Alamata District, Displacing Thousands

Violent clashes have broken out in the disputed Raya Alamata district , located between the Tigray and Amhara regions of Ethiopia, displacing thousands of civilians and officials. The district was previously under the control of southern Tigray before the war began in 2020, but has since been occupied by Amhara forces.

Residents reported that the fighting began over the weekend and continued for days. Amhara officials have accused Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) fighters of launching offensives, while Tigrayan leaders have blamed Amhara militiamen for opening fire first. The Amhara National Movement (Nama) has accused the TPLF of 'invading' the disputed area.

On Saturday, the Amhara provisional administration was dismantled in the region, leading to the killing of the Alamata woreda administrator, Molla Derbew, and another senior Amhara leader, Haftamu Fenka, in a shootout with the Ethiopian security forces. Consequently, Amhara militia members and provisional government officials fled the disputed zone towards Wollo.

An estimated 3,000 to 5,000 individuals, primarily Amharic speakers, have sought refuge in Kobo town in the Amhara region. The Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) has assumed control of Alamata and Korem towns, and some displaced persons have started returning to their homes.

Why this matters: The clashes in Raya Alamata have raised concerns about further complicating the ongoing conflict between the federal armed forces and local militias in the Amhara region. The situation remains tense, with no clear information on casualties, and fears that the crisis could escalate the conflict in northern Ethiopia.

The head of the provisional administration of Tigray has blamed the recent incidents on conflicts not involving the federal government or the Tigray and Amhara regions. The federal government has stated that the army will control the disputed areas until a resolution is reached. Thousands of Tigrayans were displaced from the Raya Alamata, Korem, and Welkait areas during the two-year conflict in northern Ethiopia, which ended in November 2022.

Key Takeaways

  • Violent clashes in disputed Raya Alamata district between Amhara and Tigray forces
  • Amhara officials accuse TPLF, Tigrayans blame Amhara militias for starting the fighting
  • Amhara administrator and leader killed in shootout with Ethiopian security forces
  • 3,000-5,000 Amharic speakers flee to Kobo town, ENDF takes control of Alamata and Korem
  • Conflict raises concerns about escalating the ongoing crisis in northern Ethiopia