Ethiopian citizens concerned about advancing Tigrayan fighters have left their jobs in order to join federal forces in an effort to prevent Addis Ababa from falling to the advancing fighters.

The precise number of how many citizens from Africa’s second-most populous country who have joined with the federal forces is hard to quantify. One mayor told The Wall Street Journal that 200,000 youths have formed groups to defend the capital, raising the possibility of a civil war.

The Trends Journal has reported extensively on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s decision to send troops into Tigray over the region’s move to hold elections in November 2020, at the height of the pandemic. (See “ETHIOPIA: A WAR OF DISASTER,” “ETHIOPIA’S WAR: TIGRAYAN FIGHTERS OPEN NEW FRONT,” and “ANOTHER ETHNIC MASSACRE IN ETHIOPIA.”)

Abiy, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, promised a swift defeat of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) but the conflict has lasted over a year and has created a humanitarian crisis.

Millions of people have been displaced from their homes in the country and there are 400,000 living in famine-like conditions, the Journal reported. (See TOP TREND 2022: “MASSIVE MIGRANT CRISIS.”)

Abiy has called on citizens in the country to take up arms to fight the advancing Tigrayans after he underestimated TPLF’s ability to fight and organize against federal troops backed by military from Eritrea. The TPLF was once on the ropes against Abiy’s forces, but in June, won back the region’s capital Mekelle, which turned the tide in the war. The TPLF has been advancing ever since.

Ethiopians have been leaving their jobs in order to enlist in the armed forces, in a similar fashion that the Tigrayans did earlier in the conflict. Tigrayans have faced war crimes during the conflict and have been accused of barbarity during their own offensive. 

These fighters have been accused of carrying out dozens of executions after taking control of towns, according to Human Rights Watch. The New York Times reported that 26 people were killed in the town of Chenna—mainly farmers and grandparents and residents—because they refused to slaughter livestock for the TPLF fighters.

“The blurring of lines between combatant and civilian increases the risk of human rights abuses and the difficulty in holding perpetrators to account,” Edward Hobey-Hamsher, Africa analyst at risk consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft, told the paper. “That this is happening in a country with deep ethnic cleavages is particularly ominous.”

The U.S. announced that a special envoy will visit the region to try and get both sides to end hostilities.

TREND FORECAST: The U.S.’s decision to send Jeffery Feltman, the special envoy for the Horn of Africa, to the region to get both sides to lay down their arms is further proof that there is not enough interest in Ethiopia to inspire a true intervention. The U.S. is bogged down by several crises from Ukraine, Taiwan, and the Middle East and lacks the political will to get involved in another conflict that has roots in tribal and ethnic prejudice. 

TREND FORECAST: This Ethiopian civil war will continue to rage. The longer it lasts, more people will be escaping in efforts to find safe-haven nations. As economic conditions deteriorate across the continent, there will be strong anti-immigration populist movements in Europe to stop the flow of African nationals who will risk their lives to leave nations wracked by civil unrest, poverty, crime, government corruption and violence. 

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