Published 25/05/2021

Text by: RFI

[Rough translation of an article by Sébastien Németh published on RFI]

The conflict continues in Tigray, a region in northern Ethiopia that has been plagued by violence since November. The federal forces are supported by the Eritrean army, but also by the Amhara militias. This ethnic group has taken control of part of the territory, notably the western and southern parts of Tigray. These regions have been claimed for decades by both communities. We report from the south, in Alamata, a town now under Amhara control.

With our special correspondent from Alamata, Sébastien Németh

In the streets of Alamata, roadblocks have been set up in various parts of the city. They are manned by the Amhara forces who claim the southern tip of Tigray.

Boytum [Goitom] Haile is a teacher and is distressed by the situation. “It makes me sad to see Tigray cut off. I feel like I have lost my identity. I don’t know who I am anymore. And if I have a conflict with an Amhara, I will never be right, just because I am Tigrayan.”

Residents say that Tigrayan officials have been replaced by Amharas. Elias admits that he even had to change his identity papers: “When we are found with a Tigrayan identity card, the authorities ask us why we don’t take Amhara papers. Each time, there was a hassle. So since I am a civil servant, I had no choice, to avoid problems with the Amharas forces I had to get my card changed. “

Fear of mass arrivals
In the heights of the city, a new sign now indicates where the Amhara zone begins. Saleh Kube lives in a house just across the street. He finds it hard to accept the situation: “This has always been and will always be Tigrayan territory. If the Amharas come, we will fight. We don’t have much, but we will defend our land. “

Residents say they fear a massive influx of Amharas to drive them out of the area. In western Tigray, thousands of people have already fled their homes to IDP camps in central Tigray.

Alamata, ville du Sud du Tigré désormais contrôlée par les Amharas. Mai 2021.
Alamata, a city in southern Tigray now controlled by the Amharas. May 2021. RFI/ Sébastien Németh