The Tigray Defence Force has released a rare video showing more than 7,000 captured Ethiopian soldiers walking towards the Mekele Rehabilitation Centre, in the capital of Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
The Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) shared that the captured soldiers walked for four days, a 75 km long journey from Abdi Eshir to Mekele, the capital of Tigray.
There are claims that the number of captive soldiers may include some Eritrean and Somali soldiers who allegedly fought on the side of the Ethiopian national army.
Meanwhile, local officials and federal government troops have pulled out of Mekele following Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s unilateral ceasefire fire order. These also signals an end to a brutal eight-month-long conflict between the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) and the Tigray Regional government.
History Of The Tigray Conflict
The politically inspired Tigray war began in 2020, following the Prime Minister’s decision to merge the ethnic and region-based constituent parties of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition and several opposition parties into a new Prosperity Party in 2019. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had hoped that this unified political party would bridge ethnic federalism and ethnic nationalist politics in the country.
Unfortunately, The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) refused to join the unified party. The party conducted regional elections in defiance of the federal government in September 2020, leading the government to declare the Tigray election illegal.
The TPLF is a politically powerful entity that had dominated Ethiopian politics for 27 years through its one-party-dominant system.
The war officially began in November 2020, with an attack of the Northern Command bases and headquarters of the ENDF in the Tigray Region by TPLF forces.
The ENDF fired back in the Tigray region in what the federal government described as a police action. Tigray’s capital city, Mekele, was later captured on November 28, forcing the TPLF “rebels” to retreat to neighbouring towns.
About 59 civilians and 13 boys between the ages of 12 to 15 were executed in the Tigray regional city of Adigrat between November 18 to December 20, 2020, by the Eritrean Defence Forces (EDF).
These extrajudicial mass killings and arbitrary detention have forced 45,000 civilians to flee their homes and settle in crowded camps.
According to a report by the United Nations, over 1 million people have been internally displaced by the war, while more than 50,000 people have fled to Sudan due to the conflict.
The United Nations (UN) also reports that some 2.3 million children do not have access to much-needed aid and humanitarian assistance. The UN has also reported 139 rape cases.