Up to 550 ethnic Tigrayan soldiers serving as UN peacekeepers in Abyei, a contested area on Sudan's border with South Sudan, refuse to go to Ethiopia fearing reprisals, say officials working in refugee response.
While the deaths from malnutrition — recorded between June last year and April 1 — are close to 2,000, the number is likely higher as most hunger deaths go unrecorded.
Rights groups have blamed newly appointed civilian administrators, regional forces and irregular militias from the neighbouring Amhara region for atrocities against civilians in Tigray.
A convoy of trucks carrying food aid has entered the Tigray region, a territory controlled by forces against Ethiopia’s government, the first humanitarian convoy to do so since Dec. 15, the UN World Food Programme said.
The announcement comes a day after the Ethiopian government declared a surprise truce to enable humanitarian access to Tigray and "pave the way for the resolution of the conflict" in the north of the country.
The war-torn region of nearly six million people has been subject to what the UN said is a de-facto blockade with the government and rebels both accused of human rights violations.
The government has sought to arrest leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the group that is fighting Ethiopian government forces.
Tigray rebels "massacred innocent people, looted and destroyed various institutions," Afar administration says, while the UN calls for end to fighting which it says is blocking aid to neighbouring Tigray region.
Tigray rebels launch "robust" military operations in neighbouring Afar, a decision Addis Ababa says is aimed at "cutting off the primary artery of humanitarian aid to Tigray".
"Humanitarian partners suspended activities in the area due the ongoing threats of drone strikes," says UN agency for humanitarian affairs.
Lawmakers pass bill to set up 11-member commission but it will not engage with Tigray or Oromo rebels at this stage.
The Ethiopian diaspora in the United States is divided over which side is fighting for the just cause – the government forces or the Tigrayan rebels. Such are the inter-community tensions that friendships are falling apart.
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