Security situation in Tigray

English

The purpose of this COI Focus is to assess the security situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. It is more particularly focused on the period between November 2022 – when the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) ended a two-year conflict in the region –  and March 2024.

The research for this COI Focus was concluded on 6 May 2024. Important events in April and May 2024 have been included as far as possible.

Cedoca conducted a fact-finding mission (FFM) in Ethiopia from 14 to 24 November 2023. The FFM was carried out with the financial support of the European Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).

From November 2020 until November 2022, the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) and its allies fought an armed conflict with the Tigray Defence Force (TDF) in northern Ethiopia. The conflict was characterized by widespread violations by all parties to the conflict. On 2 November 2022, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the federal government signed the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA). Neither the Eritrean troops nor the Amhara militias were part of the CoHA.

The CoHA significantly reduced hostilities in Tigray and restored federal authority, but it did not lead to an outright cessation of human rights violations and atrocity crimes by armed actors. Several areas in Tigray, notably in the region’s western, north-western, north-eastern and southern areas, remain unstable or inaccessible. In this context it is possible that incidents go unreported. For the period from 1 November 2022 to 15 March 2023, ACLED coded 33 incidents in Tigray, with 33 civilian casualties. ACLED did not register any incidents in Western Tigray zone. Other sources have reported on arrests, intimidation and forced displacement in this zone.

Sexual violence has not ceased after the signing of the CoHA. Forced displacement of Tigrayan civilians from Western Tigray zone by Amhara forces has been reported, as well as instances of forced displacement from areas under the control of Eritrean forces. Sources mentioned abductions and looting by the Eritrean Defence Force (EDF) and, to a lesser extent, by Amhara forces. Finally, there have been reports of a number of extrajudicial killings by EDF and Amhara forces. Civilians are the primary target of these violent incidents, in particular civilians in occupied territories, minorities such as the Irob and the Kunama, and women, especially amongst the displaced.

The CoHA required full withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF forces from the region, concurrently with the disarmament of Tigrayan forces. However, multiple sources reported the presence of Eritrean and Amhara forces in parts of Tigray. Until April 2024, Amhara forces were controlling the entire Western Tigray zone, nine woredas in North Western Tigray zone, as well as Raya, Korem, Alamata in the Southern Tigray zone. As of May 2024, Eritrean forces are present in a number of woredas in Northwestern, Central and Eastern Tigray zone.

Sources warn that the flawed implementation of the CoHA could lead to a resumption of conflict. In February and March 2024, Amhara and Tigray militias clashed in Southern Tigray zone. Armed clashes in April 2024 in Alamata Town, and Raya Alamata, Zata and Ofla woredas resulted in an undetermined number of casualties and the displacement of over 50,000 people.

The Impact of the conflict on the daily life of civilians in the region is pervasive. Tigray hosts approximately one million IDPs. They continue to face challenges including hunger, lack of humanitarian aid, overcrowded and unsanitary shelter conditions, and lack of medical treatment. The occupation of parts of Tigray by armed militias hamper the return of IDPs to their homes.

Since the singing of the CoHA, public services including telecommunication, electricity and banking, have partially resumed. In November 2023, regional courts, justice bureaus, police and prison administrations were operational but faced multiple challenges. Vital events registration services have been reinstated, but no ID cards are being issued or renewed as of April 2024. The availability and access to medical care has dwindled. The war also had a devastating effect on education in the region. Widespread destructions, a one-and-a-half-year siege, a crippling drought and a nearly seven-month pause in food aid have resulted in widespread hunger. Despite improved humanitarian access since the CoHA, the scale of humanitarian aid has not met the needs, while large areas of the regions in the north, west and south of Tigray remain inaccessible for humanitarian partners.

It is possible to travel between the capital Addis Abeba and Tigray by plane and by public transport. There are no travel restrictions in the non-occupied territories of Tigray. However, freedom of movement is curtailed where Eritrean troops and Amhara militia are present. The presence of explosive remnants of war also hinders the mobility of civilians in the region.

Policy

The policy implemented by the Commissioner General is based on a thorough analysis of accurate and up-to-date information on the general situation in the country of origin. This information is collated in a professional manner from various, objective sources, including the EUAA, the UNHCR, relevant international human rights organisations, non-governmental organisations, professional literature and coverage in the media. When determining policy, the Commissioner General does not only examine the COI Focuses written by Cedoca and published on this website, as these deal with just one aspect of the general situation in the country of origin. The fact that a COI Focus could be out-of-date does not mean that the policy that is being implemented by the Commissioner General is no longer up-to-date.

When assessing an application for asylum, the Commissioner General not only considers the actual situation in the country of origin at the moment of decision-making, he also takes into account the individual situation and personal circumstances of the applicant for international protection. Every asylum application is examined individually. An applicant must comprehensively demonstrate that he has a well-founded fear of persecution or that there is a clear personal risk of serious harm. He cannot, therefore, simply refer back to the general conditions in his country, but must also present concrete, credible and personal facts.

There is no policy paper for this country available on the website.

Land: 
Ethiopia

Information about the asylum procedure, tailored to the asylum seeker, can be found at : asyluminbelgium.be.