Ethiopia: Protesters Take to Tigray Streets Demanding Withdrawal of Foreign Forces, Return of Displaced People

23 May 2023

Cape Town — Thousands of people in northern Ethiopia's Tigray region took to the streets on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 to demand the return of people displaced by a two-year war there. The protesters are also calling for the withdrawal of outside forces, now that the conflict between Ethiopian forces (supported by their allies, neighbouring Eritrea and Amhara region) and Tigray forces has ended.

The war between Ethiopia and Tigray concluded with the signing of a peace deal in South Africa in November 2022. Tens of thousands of people were killed and hundreds of thousands fled their homes, crossing borders into neighbouring countries such as Sudan.

According to aid workers, Eritrean troops - not mentioned in the truce - also remain inside Ethiopian territory in several border towns. The Eritrean government has decline to comment, Al Jazeera reports.

Eritrean troops have been accused of serious human rights violations in Tigray. A United Nations report has also alleged that recruits of the Somali National Army were involved on the frontline in Ethiopia's war with Tigray, alongside Eritrean troops.

Getachew Reda, who leads the Tigray region's interim government, said last week that Eritrean forces recently prevented a team monitoring implementation of the peace deal from carrying out their work.

In April 2023, protesters in the Amhara region took to the streets in protest at the Ethiopian government's plan to integrate local defence forces into the police and national army.

Today's demonstrators peacefully rallied in several major cities, including the regional capital, Mekelle, Adigrat and Shire.

Al Jazeera reports that there has been no comment from the spokespersons for Eritrea and Ethiopia's governments and the regional administration of Amhara region.

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