Thousands gathered in major cities across the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia on Tuesday, calling for the repatriation of those displaced by the two-year conflict and the removal of remaining foreign forces since the war concluded.
The Tigray conflict, which erupted between Ethiopian government forces and their allies from Eritrea and Amhara, and the Tigray forces, culminated in a peace agreement last November. This deadly confrontation led to the tragic loss of tens of thousands of lives.
As a result of the war, millions had to abandon their homes. This includes a significant number from areas contested by Tigray and Amhara. Even post-conflict, Amharan security personnel and militia have sustained their presence in these disputed zones.
Additionally, there have been reports by humanitarian professionals of the presence of Eritrean troops in multiple Ethiopian border towns. However, the Eritrean government has chosen not to comment on these claims.
Prominent cities like Mekelle, Adigrat, and Shire witnessed peaceful protests on Tuesday. Protesters were seen holding placards with messages such as “invaders must leave our homeland”, as shown on Tigrai TV, a media outlet overseen by Tigray’s ruling party.
Henok Hiluf, a participant at the Mekelle demonstration, reported an estimated attendance of 3,500 to 4,000 people.
Although the peace agreement from November remains intact and both involved parties recognize the advancements in key areas – such as disarmament of Tigray forces, establishment of an interim government, and reestablishment of essential services – concerns about the enduring presence of external military entities persist. Getachew Reda, head of Tigray’s provisional administration, expressed concerns last week, highlighting that Eritrean forces had obstructed a peace deal monitoring team’s operations.
Representatives from Eritrea, the Ethiopian central government, and the Amhara regional authority have not yet issued any comments in response to the ongoing situation.