The Ethiopian government said that the alliance recently announced between the outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) armed group aka OLF Shene, is not a surprise. Both, declared terrorists by the House of the Federation, are said to have reached an agreement to partner in their respective fights with the federal government.
Diriba Kumsa, aka Jaal Marroo told the Associated Press (AP) earlier this week that his group is partnering with the TPLF to align their interests, although they are not currently fighting side by side. “This is a possibility,” AP quoted him as saying.
Reacting to this alliance at a press briefing on Thursday, August 12, 2021, the Spokesperson of the Office of the Prime Minister (PMO), Billene Seyoum said: “This alliance is not new or surprising to the government. While the timing of the public declaration needs examining, the government has been indicating for well over two years now that the TPLF have been using Shene as errand runners for their destructive mission.”
According to the AP, Diriba said “We have agreed on a level of understanding to cooperate against the same enemy, especially in military cooperation,” which he said would eventually lead to the toppling of PM Abiy Ahmed’s (PhD) administration. He also hinted at other groups that are in talks to join the alliance.
In the past, the TPLF had repeatedly iterated that it would partner with all possible local and foreign forces for the fight with the “enemy.”
However, reminding that these two organizations have been declared terrorists in 2020, “In [the] public declaration of this unusual marriage, both organizations publicly acknowledged they are leading destructive activities against the stability of the nation and that terrorism is a general feature of both,” Billene said adding her expectations that the early founders of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) would denounce this move.
The Ethiopian government called for all Ethiopians to join the armed struggle or contribute in their capacity to the fight. In addition, the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) and other security apparatus in the country had been ordered “to halt the destruction of the treasonous and terrorist TPLF organization and the machinations of foreign hands once and for all.”
Various local and international organizations have been calling for an end to the conflict in Tigray and its neighboring regions. In a statement issued early this week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Council expressed its concerns that the expansion of the conflict is claiming lives of various civilians including internally displaced people. The Council called for the toning down of narratives that would escalate the conflict and prioritize national integrity. It also addressed political parties, the elderly and religious organizations to contribute their parts in bringing about peace to the country.
According to a recent report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 5.2 million people in Tigray are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
On August 9, 2021 a statement by the UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore also indicated: “The intensification of fighting in Afar and other areas neighboring Tigray is disastrous for children. It follows months of armed conflict across Tigray that have placed some 400,000 people, including at least 160,000 children, in famine-like conditions. Four million people are in crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity in Tigray and adjoining regions of Afar and Amhara. More than 100,000 have been newly displaced by the recent fighting, adding to the two million people already uprooted from their homes.”
According to UNICEF’s estimates, the number of children that would face life threatening malnutrition would increase by 10-folds over the next 12 months.
To avert such crises, ten international organizations including UN agencies are working with the government of Ethiopia to deliver humanitarian assistance to Tigray. But security procedures to clear trucks delivering aid as well as conflicts along the route, are said to be hindrances for such assistance.