On Tuesday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed called on “all suitable and adult” Ethiopians to rejoin the army. The nine-month conflict in Tigray has spilled over into two neighboring regions in the north in recent weeks.
“The time has come for qualified and adult Ethiopians to rejoin the defense forces, special forces, and militias, and show their patriotism,” said the head of government in a statement. It declared a unilateral ceasefire less than two months ago. Since the end of June, the conflict in Tigray has seen a spectacular reversal of the situation.
The fighting started in November after the prime minister sent federal troops to the region to overthrow the regional authorities. They had sprung from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
According to the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner, that operation was in response to attacks ordered by the TPLF against federal army camps. After the fall of the regional capital Mek’ele, Abiy declared victory at the end of November. But on June 28, pro-TPLF forces recaptured the city and much of Tigray over the next few days.
After the Prime Minister declared a ceasefire, officially on humanitarian grounds, and after government forces withdrew, Tigray troops continued their offensive into the neighboring regions of Amhara to the south and Afar to the east.
The TPLF has reiterated that it does not want to seize those territories but that it wants to facilitate humanitarian aid in the region and avoid regrouping the pro-government forces.
Nine months of conflict has already left thousands dead, and tens of thousands displaced. The humanitarian situation there is disastrous.