Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on Tuesday that all eligible civilians would join the armed forces as fighting raged in several regions of Africa’s second most populous nation.
“Now is the time for all talented Ethiopians who are of age to join the armed forces, special forces and militias and show your patriotism,” the Abiy office said in a statement released less than two months after declaring a unilateral ceasefire. against Tigray rebels.
Northern Ethiopia has been devastated by fighting since November last year when Abiy sent troops to overthrow the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), then the ruling party in the Tigray region.
The measure came in response to TPLF attacks on federal army camps, said Abiy, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, and has triggered a deepening humanitarian crisis in Tigray, where 400,000 people face starvation, according to the UN.
Although Abiy promised a quick victory, the war took a fantastic turn in June when Tigrayan forces recaptured the regional capital of Mekele and the Ethiopian army largely withdrew.
Since then, the TPLF has pushed east to neighboring Afar and south to the Amhara region.
The TPLF has repeatedly stated that it does not have a design on holding territory in Amhara and Afar and instead focuses on facilitating access to aid and preventing government forces from regrouping.
The Abiy government, meanwhile, says a unilateral ceasefire it announced at the end of June was intended to enable aid deliveries and that the TPLF’s subsequent offensive undermined this effort.