Tigrays capital is suffering from food and fuel shortages, this as the Ethiopian government continues with its blockade of the region. Mekelle, a large town with a previously bustling commercial trade, now is almost a ghost town with a few cars on the streets in downtown Mekele due to the lack of fuel. The lack of food also has become a crisis, with many people not able to fulfil their daily nutritional needs, as food, such that is available, has reached sky high prices due to a severe shortage.

Since the beginning of the state of emergency on 2 November, at least 1000 people, mostly ethnic Tigrayans, have been arrested and detained. According to a statement by the UN High Commission for Human Rights, “At least 1000 individuals are believed to have been detained over the last week or so- with some reports putting the figures much higher”. Through his spokesperson Stephanie Dujarric, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has expressed “his concern over reports of arbitrary arrests and detentions, which serve to widen divisions and resentment between groups”. The detention of people seems to be completely arbitrary, determined by how someone looks or if they are suspected of being Tigrayan, or a possible collaborator for the TPLF or the OLA. This has led to panic and, mistrust on the streets of Addis Ababa, as people are being disappeared. As we have reported in previous updates, they are taken to various prisons, and once there, many are subject to torture and inhuman conditions to try and extract information from them.

TPLF forces are on the verge of seizing the country’s main trade route- the Djibouti corridor, if their progress and advance remains on track. International Crisis Group expert on Ethiopia, had this to say: “About I guess 10 days ago now they took control of Dessie and Kombolcha cities, two major Amhara cities, and that out them in another significant advance and that’s about 400km from Addis Ababa. And it looks like the Tigray leaderships next ambitions are wither to try and take control of the Djibouti corridor, Ethiopia’s main trade route. That would allow them to exert significant economic press”. If this happens, will have acquired a major victory in their offensive against the government.

The de-facto leader of the Tigray region, Deb Gebremichael, has declared that due to Addis Ababa’s refusal to negotiate in good faith, they are now determined to “destroy” the government. “By strangling Tigray, the government has denied Tigray access to food and medicine. It has denied the provision of other services too so that people die because of hunger and disease. In addition to that, it continued with its air bombing. Therefore, because the government is working on its project of decimating Tigray, we had to destroy the enemy by moving our forces outside of Tigray to crash and break the siege. In the end, this enemy should be destroyed.”

The USA has imposed sanctions on the Eritrean military, as well as individuals and groups in that country, on the basis that they are adding to the instability in neighbouring Ethiopia. The US Treasury Department blacklisted the military, its ruling political party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), key economic advisors as well as the head of the national security office, accusing them of contributing to the conflict in Ethiopia. “We condemn the continued role played by Eritrean actors who are contributing to the violence in northern Ethiopia, which has determined the stability and integrity of the state and resulted in a humanitarian crisis”, Andrea Gacki, director of Treasury’s office of Foreign Assets Groups, said in a statement.

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths has announced an allocation of $25 million to support life-saving humanitarian work in the country. This is in addition to the $15 million already allocated.

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