Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Ethiopia's Tigray Crisis: Minorities Flee to Sudan

Sat 21 Aug 2021 | 12:16 PM
Nawal Sayed

After a conflict broke out in the Tigray region, Ethiopians from the Qemant minority had no choice but to flee to neighboring Sudan, in yet another grim evidence of a widening ethnic conflict, according to a report published by France Press Agency on Saturday.

In the Sudanese town of Basinga, bordering Ethiopia says refugee Emiebit Demoz who, like thousands of others fled her village last month, "houses were burned and people were killed with machetes".Ethiopia's Tigray Crisis: Minorities Flee to Sudan

"We were not even able to take the bodies and bury them," she added.

Thousands of people have been killed since the conflict erupted in November when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to oust the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the region's ruling party.

Other groups fighting for territory were involved in the violence, in battles that stretched from Tigray to the neighboring state of Amhara, the homeland of the Amhara people, as well as the Qemant ethnic minority.

Amhara fighters are supporting Abiy Ahmed's forces in a bid to reach a settlement to their decades-old dispute over land they say the Tigray Front seized during its nearly three-decade rule of the country before Abiy took power in 2018.

The Qemant people have long been disturbed by the dominant cultural and social influence of the Amhara people, and in the past few years have been demanding autonomy.Ethiopia's Tigray Crisis: Minorities Flee to Sudan

In 2017, a referendum on the establishment of an autonomous Qemant ended in grudges, and the resulting dispute led to increasingly frequent clashes between the two groups.

"The government-backed Amhara fighters wanted to drive us off our land," says Emibet, 20. "They are killing us because we are an ethnic minority," she says.

Amhara leaders say the Qemant's efforts to establish autonomy have been largely stoked by the Tigray rebels, whose leaders say they are waging a proxy war by supporting the group.

Gezacho said that those described as refugees "are loyal to the terrorist Tigray People's Liberation Front and were created by the Tigray Liberation Front with the aim of perting the attention of Ethiopia and Amhara."

The United Nations estimates that about 200,000 people have been driven from their homes in the Amhara region, where the violence is widening rifts between ethnic groups.

Clashes between the Amhara and the Qemant forced thousands of people to flee in April this year, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

Activists from the Qemant say that their historical homeland includes villages bordering Sudan.

Relations between Khartoum and Addis Ababa worsened over the Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile.

Three thousand refugees from the Qemant have crossed into Sudan since last month, according to Sudanese officials.

Sudan receives more than 60,000 refugees from Tigray, according to the latest United Nations statistics, which is a burden on a country suffering from a severe economic crisis.

Refugees from the Qemant consider themselves victims of an ancient ethnic conflict.

The United Nations says that the risk of starvation threatens about 400,000 people in Tigray due to the conflict, where the fighting continues.