On Friday, April 17, Eritrea acknowledged for the first time the presence of its troops in Ethiopia and announced that they would withdraw.
as reported from Nairobi, Albane Thirouard
Speech exchange for Eritrea. Since the beginning of November, the central power of Addis Ababa has been fighting the regional power in Tigray, Ethiopia. Several international reports condemned the presence of Eritrean troops in the region, accusing them of sexual violence, massacres and looting.
A presence that has long been denied by Addis Ababa and Asmara. In March, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abyi Ahmed finally acknowledged the involvement of the Eritrean army in the fighting and promised to leave the region.
This week, however, the UN said no evidence had confirmed their withdrawal. In response, Eritrea on Friday acknowledged for the first time the presence of its troops in Ethiopia and announced at the same time that they were withdrawing.
“Eritrea and Ethiopia have made a joint decision, at the highest level, to begin the withdrawal of Eritrean troops.” This was written by the Eritrean Ambassador to the UN, Sophia Tesfamariam, in a letter to the UN Security Council on Friday. First official acknowledgment for Asmara who has so far denied that his troops were involved in the conflict.
A turnaround that comes in the context of increased international pressure. Several reports in recent months have condemned massacres, looting and rape by Eritrean forces. On Thursday, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock said troops were still present in Tigray, despite the Ethiopian prime minister’s promise at the end of March. The UN official also spoke about atrocities committed by Asmara’s forces.
In his letter to the UN, however, the Eritrean ambassador denied these allegations, describing them as “false” and “scandalous”. She condemned “a brutal attack on culture and history” by the Eritrean people. In protest of these reports, which were considered “false”, Eritrea announced on Saturday that it had called two UN officials to the country.