Tens of Thousands Displaced Amid Renewed Amhara-Tigray Land Dispute in Ethiopia

Fighting erupts between Amhara and Tigray forces in northern Ethiopia over disputed territory, displacing nearly 29,000 people. The clashes threaten to undo the fragile peace achieved in 2022 and raise concerns about further displacement and human rights abuses.

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Nitish Verma
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Tens of Thousands Displaced Amid Renewed Amhara-Tigray Land Dispute in Ethiopia

Tens of Thousands Displaced Amid Renewed Amhara-Tigray Land Dispute in Ethiopia

Fighting has erupted between forces from the Amhara and Tigray regions in northern Ethiopia over disputed territory along their shared border, displacing close to 29,000 people, according to the United Nations. The clashes began last week in the Raya Alamata district, an area claimed by both regions.

Why this matters: The renewed violence in Ethiopia's Amhara-Tigray border region has significant implications for regional stability and humanitarian efforts, as it threatens to undo the fragile peace achieved in 2022. The ongoing conflict also raises concerns about the potential for further displacement and human rights abuses in the region.

Officials in Amhara have accused Tigrayan forces of launching an invasion of the contested district, a charge denied by former rebels in Tigray. The Raya Alamata district had been under Tigray's control until the outbreak of war in 2020, but Amhara forces have since taken over the area. Reports indicate that Tigrayan forces have advanced towards some parts of the district following the resurgence of fighting.

The United Nations has stated that "life-saving assistance is urgently required" for those displaced by the conflict, with some families taking shelter in open areas in the nearby Amhara districts of Kobo and Sekota. The embassies of seven Western countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have released a joint statement expressing concern over the reported violence and calling for de-escalation and disarmament.

The land dispute between the Amhara and Tigray regions has deep historical roots. Tigray, which makes up about 6% of Ethiopia's population, dominated the country's politics for nearly three decades until Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018. Tensions between the federal government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) escalated, leading to the outbreak of war in November 2020.

The conflict has had devastating consequences, with widespread reports of atrocities, famine, and the displacement of over two million people. A peace deal signed in November 2022 had raised hopes of ending the two-year war, but the renewed clashes in disputed border areas underscore the fragility of the situation. As tens of thousands flee their homes once again, the urgent need for humanitarian assistance and a lasting resolution to the land dispute between Amhara and Tigray has never been more apparent.

Key Takeaways

  • Fighting erupts between Amhara and Tigray forces over disputed territory in northern Ethiopia.
  • Close to 29,000 people displaced, with urgent need for humanitarian assistance.
  • Tigrayan forces accused of launching invasion, which they deny.
  • Renewed violence threatens fragile peace achieved in 2022.
  • Land dispute has deep historical roots, with devastating consequences for civilians.