Press Release Concerning Criminal Investigation on Crimes Committed in Axum City Attorney General (May 10, 2021)

A criminal investigation has been underway for the last two months by a team of investigators and prosecutors from Federal Attorney General and Federal Police for alleged crimes committed in different localities of Tigray Region in relation with the Law Enforcement Mission. During the investigation, until May 3, 2021 testimonies of 95 witnesses and documentary evidences have been taken and collected by the investigation team.

From the testimonies and documentary evidences collected, it has been established that TPLF had recruited, trained and deployed about 2,500 para-military personnel from civilians in major cities of the region to conduct urban warfare prior to the entry of ENDF to the City of Axum. As an instance, in Axum city alone, 1,500 youth received one day “training” on how to shoot guns during the period from 10 to 18 November 2020 in different rounds to confront the ENDF.

It is established from the evidences that the ENDF entered Axum on 19 November 2020 and remained in the city until 27 November 2020. During this period, it has been ascertained that five individuals have died by cannon artillery which was intended for military targets of the TPLF. Another civilian was due to confrontation with law enforcement forces regarding breach of curfew imposed by the state of emergency proclamation.

On 27 November 2020, when the ENDF left the city to carry out another law enforcement mission, a small number of Eritrean troops arrived in two vehicles and were stationed in the mountainous area of the city. At this point, TPLF cadres spread a rumour to the effect that the Eritrean army entered the city to surrender and not to fight and instigated the 1500 youth that they had trained earlier to raise arms and capture the Eritrean soldiers.

Simultaneously, members of the TPLF Special Forces and militia in the Adet area entered the city to fight in Axum. Meanwhile, the former mayor of the city of Axum, joined the TPLF forces in the woods, wrote a letter ordering for the distribution of weapons stored in five locations, including those stolen from the ENDF’s Northern Command. At one location alone, 400 units of weapons was withdrawn as per the direction of the latter. This was confirmed by testimonies from the youth, as well as members of the Special Forces.

After such preparation, the TPLF forces had opened attack on the Eritrean soldiers who were settled on the mountainous area of the city. The heavy fighting between the forces took from 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM until ENDF’s help had arrived. At this moment, the TPLF forces had backed to city. According to the words of the 95 witnesses, 93 individuals had been killed due to the fight. According to the same testimony, it is established that the great majority of those killed on the said incident, though they were not in uniform, they were members of the fighting force of TPLF who engaged the Eritrean forces and ENDF.

In Relation to allegation of Rape, to this date, testimonies of 116 victims of rape have been recorded by the police. The criminal investigation has managed to identify members of the Federal Police and ENDF involved in the crime. As a result, the case with the members of Federal Police has been transferred to the Regional Prosecution Office where as the case of members of ENDF who was alleged for to involve in the crime has been transferred to the military court.

Due to TPLF’s sinister act manifested in the release of tens of thousands of notorious criminals from prison and attiring them with ENDF’s and Eritrean military uniforms, it has been found to the investigation team extremely difficult to identify the culprits of the offence. The investigation is still underway and investigators are identifying the perpetrators of the crimes mentioned above and are gathering further evidences that would uncover the offences and bring the perpetrators to justice. The investigation team is still collecting testimonies from religious leaders and funeral service providers as well as collecting medical evidences from medical institutions. It is the firm belief of the Attorney General that with strong collaboration between federal and regional law enforcement agencies and with the relentless support from the people, the law enforcement mission will succeed with its objective in bringing peace and security to the region and ensuring the accountability of the perpetrators of the crimes before justice.

Press Release Issued on the Proscription of ‘TPLF’ and ‘Shene’ as Terrorist Organizations (May 10, 2021)

In the last three years, there have been violent attacks perpetrated against civilians in various parts of the country. Those who have orchestrated these attacks were motivated by the desire to reverse the reform measures that have been implemented in these three years. These attacks were intended to endanger the very existence of the state by undermining public trust and confidence on the government. The attacks have been perpetrated against innocent citizens and public infrastructure to advance the political ideology of division and in the pursuit of political goals or objectives.

Although these attacks have been carried out by different actors in different parts of the country, there have been groups that have played a leading role behind the scenes by planning and financing the attacks and by providing training, media and technical support in the commission of the violent crimes. It is also clear that these groups are working with foreign forces who want to destabilize, weaken and destroy Ethiopia.

It is to be noted that prior to the reform, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was in power since 1991. However, the top leadership of the TPLF, whose illicit personal interest have been affected by the reform measures, chose to stand against the reform and obstruct the process in order to protect their hegemony and privileges. Though they took all sorts of measures to derail the reform from its course, they did not succeed. In pursuit of their sinister interest, the TPLF Executive Committee decided in 2011 E.C. (2019 G.C.) to form an illegal armed force, known as the “Tigray Central Military Command”, believing that it was necessary to overthrow the government that brought about national change by any means including armed force. In order to organize the military command, a new unit called the Force Deployment Unit was established under the Regional Security Bureau. This unit was led by retired generals and colonels from the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF). The military officers prepared a military doctrine to build the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) and presented it to the TPLF Executive Committee. The committee discussed on the doctrine and decided to implement it. TDF recruited members from the Tigray Regional State Special Forces police and VIP guards and provided them with extensive military training to prepare for war. The regional government divided the militia into different grades or levels and organized a high-level military unit called Grade One militia, which was provided with advanced military training. This militia unit, consisted members who are less than 40 years of age, fully fit, and able to engage in war. This unit is organized to move from place to place under any circumstances, and its members were paid while they were on active duty.

In addition to extensive training in the region’s Special Forces and Grade One militias, the Unit continued to organize and recruit members who retired from the ENDF and the Federal Police for various reasons on a temporary and permanent basis. In particular, they mobilized veterans with various military skills to organize a Mechanized Weaponry Unit. All of these activities were wantonly and manifestly in grave violation of Ethiopia’s constitutional order and all relevant laws. This force was equipped with the different weaponry including artillery and rockets.

In the meantime, the Executive Committee of the TPLF was closely following the level of preparation of its rogue forces and provided directions. Besides the military preparations, TPLF mobilized its cadres for a series of war propaganda directed on the People of Tigray. In the early months of 2012 E.C., TPLF publicly declared its intention to wage war, claiming that the time had come to mobilize the people of Tigray so that to make sure the federal government has no control over the region. They set up checkpoints to prevent the ENDF from operating properly in the region.

Realizing that the TPLF’s acts in Tigray region alone will not weaken the federal government, it began working with rebel groups operating in different parts of Ethiopia in order to weaken the federal government, In this regard, TPLF begun providing fund and weapon for the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF) to destabilize the Afar region. TPLF was also working with various groups to also destabilize the Amhara region. They provided financial support and weapons to Qemant committee to intensify the conflict in the area. At the same time, TPLF has tried to provoke conflict in Gambella region by providing weapons and financial support to a group called Peace, Development and Democracy, in an attempt to provoke civil unrest in the region. The Benishangul-Gumuz People’s Democratic Movement (BPDM) and the Benishangul Gumuz People’s Liberation Movement (BPLM) have also been financially and materially supported by TPLF. These groups are responsible for the death, bodily injury and displacement of innocent civilians and destruction of public infrastructure in the region. TPLF committed all these with a view seizing the power of the federal government by force and violence against the will of the people.

On October 29, 2020, the TPLF Executive Committee convened a meeting of the party’s central committee. On this meeting a document was presented which showed TPLF’s plan after the fall of the federal government. According to this document, a transitional government for two to three years will be established and then election will be conducted by which TPLF will return to power with a coalition of so called “federalist forces” under its control. It was explained that the war itself would start earlier. Finally, on the night of 03 November 2020, TPLF force launched an offensive attack against the Northern Command of ENDF, while cutting of electricity and telecom services in the entire region. Group of Youth organized by the TPLF in the city of Maikadra had also lodged gruesome attacks against innocent civilians of Amhara ethnic group, claiming hundreds of lives and injuring many more.

TPLF also launched rocket attacks into populous metropolitan cities of Bahir Dar and Gondar of Amhara Regional State. Similarly, TPLF had also launched rocket attacks on Sovereign nation’s capital, Asmara. These attacks resulted in the killing of innocent people and damaging civilian infrastructure.

On the other hand, a group called Shene which was implored by religious and community elders to lay down arms had intensified its vicious, cowardly and heinous attack against civilians and local administrators. For instance, on 2020/21 alone, 463 people were killed by the attacks of this group in the Oromia region. 112 police officers, 57 militia members and 18 government leaders at various levels were killed. 76 police officers, 36 militia members and 2 leaders were injured. 160 houses, 44 vehicles and 84 government offices were set on fire. The criminal investigation established that on November 01, 2020, in the West Welega Guliso Woreda, Gawa Kanka Kebele, in an attempt to harm innocent civilians, the group killed 36 civilians and burned several houses, displacing a large number of people. This so-called Shene group, which claims to be fighting for the people has formed an assassination squad called Abatorbe to kill and attack civilians residing in cities. The squad targets government officials and innocent people who they perceive as being opposed to the objective or the tactics of this group.

In line with the findings of our criminal investigation, significant number of criminal cases were brought before courts of law against members of this group. The defendants in these cases are believed to have been involved in various illegal activities as leaders and members of a militant group commonly known as Shene. They are being prosecuted for Organizing an armed force to oust the current regional government and the federal government, and arming Abatorbe, an urban death squad in the region, particularly in the West Welega Zone, East Welega Zone, Kelem Welega Zone, and Horo Gudru Zone.

From the above-mentioned, it is evident that the aforementioned acts of TPLF and Shene are clearly acts of terrorism. In this regard, in accordance with the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No. 1176/2012, it has become an imperative measure to designate these two groups as organizations of terror in order to better maintain peace and security of the country, its inhabitants and the region at large. The purpose of designating these entities as terrorist organizations is primarily to stop the ongoing terrorist activities in the country and to create more capacity for law enforcement agencies to prevent and control the crime. It is a criminal offense to support and assist an organization designated as a terrorist group, and to participate in it. Therefore, when we designate an organization or group as a terrorist organization, it is important to remind the public not to cooperate with the organization and to refrain from providing any support to it. Recognizing this can help prevent people from collaborating with such an organization, since individuals who provide various forms of support to a designated terrorist organization and those who provide assistance or members to the organization will face criminal liability. If an organization is designated as a terrorist organization, its assets will be confiscated, creating an opportunity to weaken the terrorist group’s financial capacity. Pursuant to Proclamation No. 1176/2012, the House of People’s Representatives has the authority to proscribe organizations as terrorist. Procedurally, a group will be proscribed as a terrorist organization when a resolution to this effect is presented to the Council of Ministers by the Federal Attorney General and approved by a two-thirds majority of the members of the House of Representatives. An organization can be designated as a terrorist organization if it fulfills the alternative conditions set out under Article 19 of the Proclamation.

  • The first condition is that when a terrorist organization operates by carrying terrorist activities as its objective or
  • The second condition is if the management or the decision-making body of an organization practices or officially accepts the crime of terrorism or leads its operation or
  • The crime defines the organization’s nature through its operation and conduct or most of its employees carry out its activities with knowledge of the crime.

Although meeting just one above-mentioned requirement suffices to proscribe an organization as a terrorist, TPLF and Shene met all the three conditions. Therefore, they have been duly designated as terrorist organizations by the House of Peoples Representatives and are hereby considered proscribed organizations.

Ambassador Dina Mufti briefs foreign media outlets in Addis Ababa on significant issues in Ethiopia (May 8, 2021)

Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, H.E. Ambassador Dina Mufti gave a briefing today (May 08) to international media outlets stationed in Addis Ababa about the status of the GERD negotiations, the Ethiopia-Sudan border issue, and the upcoming general elections.

Speaking about the GERD, he said the construction and filling of the dam would be held according to the schedule adding that Ethiopia stood firm to utilize the Nile water resources fairly and equitably while causing no significant harm to downstream states.

Ethiopia is committed to applying the motto of “African solutions to African problems,” for the GERD negotiations, he said and Sudan and Egypt are unnecessarily internationalizing the matter.

Ambassador Dina also talked about some of the concessions Ethiopia had to make to ensure the negotiations turn out successful, such as the willingness to exchange data and widen the role of observers so that they can offer their opinions and separately consult the negotiating parties.

Regarding the Ethiopia-Sudan border dispute, Ambassador Dina condemned the belligerent acts of the Sudanese troops in compromising the wellbeing of Ethiopians which is contrary to the fraternal relationship that exists between the people of the two countries.

He said existing border conflict resolution mechanisms, including the works of various joint border committees, could have solved the problem peacefully and expressed Ethiopia’s readiness to solve the problem amicably.

The Sudanese stance over the GERD and the border issue does not represent the interests of the people of Sudan but a third party, he said.

On the upcoming election, he said the electoral process is well underway and observers from international and domestic institutions are finalizing their preparations to undertake their responsibilities.

Although the EU has announced the cancellation of its plan to deploy election observers, he said the Union has decided to send observers at experts’ level.

He finally said, election observers, are expected to follow guidelines to carry out their duties as laid out by proper institutions in Ethiopia.

Situation Update on Tigray (May 8, 2021)

Significant strides have been made in preceding weeks as follows:

  • In the second round of humanitarian assistance, food and non-food items have been delivered for 2.7 million beneficiaries.
  • Emergency shelters and NFI kits estimated at more than 437.86mil birr supplied for an estimated 245, 586 IDPs. With partners covering roughly 33% of the total requirement, a significant gap exists in non-food items supplies.
  • Issue of access to humanitarian support has been adequately addressed with the notification system that is now in place. Some of the pocket areas that were inaccessible are now being reached out through military escort.
  • Visa extension permits are being granted and a guideline has also been introduced to respond to requests for permits to use communication equipment
  • The Ministry of Health has been working to operationalize health facilities in the region with provision of emergency supplies. Up to 60 mobile health teams have been established thus far.
  • The Federal Ministry of Agriculture has allocated Birr 10 million to strengthen the regional agriculture and natural resource bureaus, with 126,614 quintals of fertilizer from port Djibouti is on progress.
  • The Ministry of Education has allocated Birr 95 million for reopening of schools and dispatched 1 million face masks to the region.
  • Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) has been established in Mekele comprising of relevant line Ministries, Regional Bureau, UN-Agencies, bi-lateral and international NGOs.
  • More than 192 staff members of UN-Agencies, international NGO’s including international media have been provided access.
  • On recovery and rehabilitation interventions, the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Peace are closely working with EU, World Bank and UNDP in order to rebuild damaged and destroyed economic and social infrastructures in the region.

The Government of Ethiopia continues its commitment to rebuilding Tigray and ensuring that its citizens in the Region are sufficiently provided for while rebuilding efforts are being exerted. In this regard, we welcome the international community who have partnered with the Ethiopian government to provide much needed relief.

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Ethiopia, World Bank Sign $ 200m Loan Agreement (May 7, 2021)

Ethiopia and the World Bank have signed a financing agreement to support the Government’s Digitalization Program.

The Bank, through the agreement, committed a concessional loan of $ 200 million, according to the Ministry of Finance.

The agreement was signed by Ahmed Shide, Minister of Finance and Ousmane Dione, Country Director for Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Eritrea.

During the signing ceremony, Ahmed said, “The financing of this project will directly contribute to Ethiopia’s digitization strategy, which pursues an inclusive digital economy approach that will catalyze Ethiopia’s broader development vision set out in the Ten-Year Perspective Plan for Prosperity”.

He also said the project will also contribute to the job creation objective of the government especially within the tech industry the creation of digital solutions and their adoption by the rest of the economy.

A Week in the Horn (May 7, 2021)

For the latest updates from the Horn of Africa checkout MFA weekly online magazine A Week in the Horn May 7, 2021. Get the major news stories in the week about Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Djibouti, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and AU.

https://bit.ly/33shqwc

UN Releases $65mln for Humanitarian Response in Ethiopia (May 6, 2021)

The United Nations has released 65 million US Dollars for the humanitarian response in Ethiopia.

UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said: We need to scale up the humanitarian response in Ethiopia in support of the growing need in Tigray and other places”

Access to all those in need in Tigray remains a challenge, but aid workers are working with authorities to overcome obstacles to get help to those who need it and reaching previously inaccessible areas in the South-Eastern zone, he said.

Last week an inter-agency humanitarian convoy managed to reach Samre town, where it delivered emergency food aid and nutrition supplies and organized a mobile health clinic in the Samre hospital. These recent reports show the promise of improved access and underscore the urgency of additional funding to help people who were previously unreachable.

A total of 40 million US Dollars will be dedicated to the aid operation in Tigray, where it will fund emergency shelter, clean water, health care, work to prevent and respond to cases of sexual and gender-based violence, and emergency telecommunications to support the humanitarian response.

The remaining 25 million US Dollars will fund humanitarian operations in the rest of Ethiopia, including in response to drought in the Somali and Oromia regions. It will support the treatment of children with severe acute malnutrition and the rehabilitation of water systems, supply water to drought-affected communities, and enable humanitarian organizations to pre-position life-saving supplies.

The current humanitarian response throughout Ethiopia, including in Tigray, remains insufficient to meet the needs of all affected people. Additional funding is needed, alongside safe and unfettered humanitarian access, to ensure aid organizations and the Ethiopian Government can scale up to the level needed, the OCHA report says.

The 65 million US Dollars released today is made up of 45 million USD from the UN-managed Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund, 25 million USD of which is earmarked for Tigray, and 20 million USD from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), 15 million USD of which will be dedicated to Tigray.

Second Round Humanitarian Assistance Addresses Over 2.7 Million People In Tigray (May 6, 2021)

The Ministry of Peace jointly with the National Disater Risk management Commission (NDRMC) has issued a statement on latest developments in Tigray Region.

The Ministry of Peace stated that it has begun working with NDRMC on the humanitarian issues since the completion of the law enforcement operation.

According to the statement, over the last few months we have focused on rebuilding infrastructure damaged by retreating TPLF forces such as electricity, telephone lines, schools, health and water facilities.

The national political and economic reform agenda encompasses all the regions. Thus, Tigray region along with other parts of the country will accelerate its reform and development activities and transition from aid dependency towards self-reliance and self-sufficiency.

The Ethiopian Government and people have been mobilizing resources and expertise to speed up Tigray region’s recovery process.

Government of Ethiopia provided 70% of the emergency aid to the Region in first and second rounds of emergency assistances. Since the completion of the law enforcement operation the Government of Ethiopia along its national and international partners have carried out wide ranging initiatives including distribution of food and non-food items, rehabilitation of infrastructures and resumption of services.

Federal Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) led by a Ministerial Committee in collaboration with the Tigray Region Command Post and the Region’s Emergency Coordination Center are coordinating the humanitarian response and the rehabilitation process.

The ECC is comprised of relevant Ministries, regional bureaus, UN-Agencies, bi-laterals and international organizations. Four layers of Emergency Coordination system – Regional, Zonal, Woreda and Food Distribution points are set up to capture additional needs and address needs.

Humanitarian assistance is delivered for more than 4.5 million beneficiaries in the first round with a cost of USD 3.7 Billion Birr. Moreover, the second round addressed more than 2.7 million beneficiaries across Tigray.

Humanitarian aid in the first round was delivered in a blanket approach to all the needy at the time due to financial services not being in place, market failure and pending salary payments.

Six UN agencies (with more than 192 staff), 25 International Organizations, 8 international media and 6 national NGOs have been provided access to the Region to support the emergency response. Access is unrestricted to all local and international organizations/individuals who are interested to contribute to the efforts.

Region’s police force has taken over from the Federal Police. About 4000 regional police officers participated in refresher training and are on duty. Community police and independent observers are organized in Mekelle city and its vicinity and are working besides the regional police to enhance peace and security.

Public health surveillance is conducted weekly. Covid-19 RDT kits distributed to 5 hospitals and 11 health centers. Covid-19 testing started at IDP sites. 14 hospitals are fully functional and 4 are functioning partially. 17 hospitals require heavy maintenance to run.

To improve health and nutrition services, mobile basic health services are underway through more than 60 teams deployed by the regional health bureau and partners.

Four clinics and nine health service teams have been established at IDP sites. Mental health and psychosocial support provision has continued at IDP sites and to gender based violence victims. 40 of the health centers in the regional are fully functioning and 12 are running partially. 104 are under maintenance.

Emergency Medicines which are estimated to be 72.9 Million Birr and 12 ambulances and Birr 129.8 Million have been supplied to the region by Ministry of Health to strengthen the basic health services and facilities.

Water pipelines maintenance continued. More than 120 water trucks deployed to different IDP site and host communities in 25 Woredas. Maintenance of 44 boreholes, 180 shallow-wells and 78 hand dug wells undertaken.

Schools condition assessment conducted in 6 zones and 27 woredas in the Region. Reports show that 6 schools fully and 331 schools partially are damaged. 80 teachers are hired and trained on pedagogical approach for accelerated learning program. 600 accelerated school readiness children are enrolled. About 500 children are attending school for half day. 72 teachers are trained on education in emergency to serve at IDPs and host communities.

Administrative staff are hired to support the education in emergency program. 812 students sat for the national school leaving certificate examination.

To restore seeds production, government and partners are mobilizing resources. 126, 614 quintal fertilizers from port are on Progress. A total of 29,816 hectare is identified in S zones for action.

To provide farm tools, a total of Birr 213,118,645 fund has been availed. 5,580 quintal of seeds procured, which costs more than 5.5 million birr in progress to boost the Tigray agricultural production and productivity. Partners allocated birr 71,909,824 for livestock restocking.

Financial services recovered; banking service is in place. Telephone lines and electricity repaired and restored. A handful of factories have commenced production and export activities.

As part of the National Dialogue going on throughout the country, more than 2000 civil servants have participated in a peace dialogue organized by the Ministry.

Program throughout the country, 1300 youth have participated in a one month training. The training included courses on life skill and leadership, digital media smart use, civic rights and social virtue, consensus building in diversity and peace building. The volunteers will be deployed to serve the community in the different parts of the region.

House Designates Shene And TPLF As Terrorist Organizations (May 6, 2021)

The House of Peoples Representatives, in its 13th regular session held today, approved a resolution passed by the Council of Ministers last week to designate Shene and TPLF as terrorist organizations.

The House approved the resolution with a majority of vote and one abstention.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen discusses with President of the Republic of South Africa (May 5, 2021)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Demeke Mekonnen met with the President of the Republic of South Africa, H.E Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa and had a very fruitful discussion on both bilateral and regional issues.

During the meeting, H.E Demeke Mekonnen informed the President on current issues in Ethiopia.

Mr. Demeke updated the President on the ongoing humanitarian assistance in the Tigray region.

He further expressed the work that has been done and the commitment of the government to investigate alleged human rights allegations and bring the perpetrators to justice.

On the AU led trilateral negotiation on the GERD, H.E Mr. Demeke emphasized Ethiopia’s firm commitment to continue the negotiations under the AU framework and reach a mutually acceptable outcome to the three countries.

His Excellency also informed the President the preparation for the upcoming national election to make it free, fair and credible.

Mr. Demeke expressed Ethiopia’s profound appreciation to H.E President Ramaphosa for his leadership in promoting African solutions to Africa’s problems.