(China Daily) Journey to the East: The flow of Yangtze

In 1967, I think, one of the great historians of the day, Arnold J, Toynbeee, delivered a lecture at the Haile Selassie I University in Addis Ababa, where I was a law student. He made several predictions for the end of the millennium.

First, he said, unless a major spiritual revolution salvaged Western democracy, the moral crisis that was then in the offing, especially in the United States, would lead to its decline. And China would emerge as a superpower, leading to a complete overhaul of the world order.

Since then I had yearned to visit China, to dip my feet in the mighty Yangtze and feel its bountiful movement and, indeed, that of China itself. The opportunity came in a way I had never expected. In early 2019, I fell seriously ill, threatened with renal failure. As I lay in the ICU of Orota Hospital in the Eritrean capital of Asmara, swollen all over the body and gasping for breath, my old schoolmate and friend Tsegai Tesfatsion, Eritrea’s Ambassador to China, called and asked me to come to Beijing for treatment. A few days later, I was in the Peking Union Medical College Hospital in Beijing.

On her first visit, my doctor, a respected nephrologist and professor, pressed my calf and feet with her forefinger which created huge dimples. “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of that,” Professor Su told me. She then checked my wheezing, excruciating chest and said: “We’ll take care of that too.” She spoke with a soothing voice, calm and confident.

I stayed in the state-of-the-art hospital for almost a month. From the lobby in my ward, where I preferred to sit with a book, I could see the hospital staff in constant motion. The division of labor amazed me. After one month of hospitalization, forty pills a day and volumes of oxygen to keep me breathing, the life-threatening clots in my bloodstream were gone and my body was liberated from the horrors of swelling.

But my treatment had just begun. For nine more months, while I enjoyed the hospitality of Tsegai and the Eritrean embassy staff’s hospitality, Prof Su called me to the hospital once every one or two weeks. The picture of the professor peering into the computer, analyzing my test results and prescribing me medication remains imprinted in my mind. Although I was taking about 40 pills a day, I couldn’t grasp their names and functions. “Your friend knows more about your disease and your medicines than you do,” she said at one point.

I’d never been so connected to a doctor. I observed the way she was guiding me back to functional health, medically and psychologically. Whenever I felt low due to unsatisfactory weekly test results, she noticed it and tried to cheer me up, and increase or decrease the doses, or prescribe new pills to treat new conditions.

It seemed prescribing medicines was like making a move in chess. But I also felt that, with the right soul handling it, prescribing medicines is a lot like art. From my limited experience with Professor Su, I could see that medical treatment in China was patient-oriented.

In between the weekly or fortnightly visits to the hospital. I ventured out to “feel” the movement of China and its people. But, except for the thrill of connecting with history at the Forbidden City (Palace Museum), the Great Wall and Mao Zedong Mausoleum, I had to readjust my earlier impressions of China. The same drive and discipline that built the Great Wall have today propelled the country to unprecedented heights.

Nothing, it seems, can ever be small in China. Some of the numbers are staggering: 3,000 skyscrapers,100-storied buildings. About 800 million people lifted out of poverty. Indeed, the flow of the Chinese people has diversified.

Though I did not get to dip my feet in the Yangtze, I did enjoy an evening on its banks under the glittering lights of bustling Shanghai. I got a glimpse of the river again as I crossed the Wuhan Bridge, barely a month before the outbreak of COVID-19.

While making the prediction about China’s rise over half a century ago, at the height of the Cold War, Toynbee had also said the West’s reaction to that development would grow confrontational. I remember his warning that, if that led to war, which he deplored in the strongest terms, it would not be ideological. It would be between the East and the West, possibly ending with the destruction of both.

That evening in Shanghai, on the banks of the Yangtze River, my thoughts had crossed continents to the other global financial center, New York City. I was left wondering how two entirely different societies, of contrasting values and competing principles, could achieve similar results.

As ferries crisscrossed the river carrying cheerful tourists, Toynbee’s warning invaded my thoughts. I pushed it away for more positive thoughts. I cannot pretend to fully understand where the major power rivalry is heading. But I find solace in thinking of the tangible and intangible benefits of major power cooperation over confrontation, and peace over war.

In late December 2019, Professor Su was happy enough with my results to allow me to return home. As I said farewell to her and my friends at the Eritrean embassy, I vowed to revisit China and eventually dip my feet in the Yangtze, but not as a sick man.

Source: Dehai Eritrea Online

The Return of the Revered Legend Celebrating 30th Independence Anniversary at home

Engineer Asgedom Weldemichael, one of the Eritrean music legends, is here in Asmara to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Eritrea’s Independence at home. His fascination with the undying resilience and strength of the Eritrean people have been expressed through his music that touch every Eritrean’s heart. He performed at Cinema Roma in an event organized to celebrate the 30th Independence Day. Engineer Asgedom’s songs are everlasting having been leaving their indelible marks on generations of Eritreans since the 1970s. Some of his songs have been remixed by young artists.

Engineer Asgedom welcomed us into the warmth of his home for an interview.

• It is an honor to have you back, Engineer Asgedom.

Thank you. It is nice to be back home, especially at a time when we are celebrating our 30th anniversary of independence, united as a nation. This adds so much joy to my visit.

• Would you please share with our readers what you have been doing since your last interview with Eritrea Profile?

I haven’t been that active after that interview. I only did a song about the peaceful environment that we have been able to have with Ethiopia. It truly was a happy occasion for me and for all Eritreans across the world. It was clear that the “No war No peace” situation has affected our region negatively for so many years and to be able to close a dark chapter behind and move on meant the world to me. As a people we were in colonization for so long, that it was time to start an era where peace dominates.

• You have sung songs about the resilience of the Eritrean people. Now that we’ve just celebrated our 30th anniversary, what do you have to say?

Eritreans are and have been resilient throughout their history. By working hard in harmony, we were able to defeat enemies. Fighting for our rights and our land has never stopped even after we got our independence. It was 30 years of struggle in the fields for Independence and 30 additional years of struggle to keep our land stable and safe. Eritreans are the kind of people who think about and care for their fellow Eritreans, and that is the only way we were able to survive everything that has happened to us in the past. That is one of the qualities of being an Eritrean. Now, as a people, we stand tall and cherish our journey and freedom together, and that to me has more meaning than anything else.

• What do you think of the Eritrean diaspora’s role in the nation’s development?

Most members of the Eritrean community in diaspora have an amazing connection with one another. I am always proud to see youngsters born and raised abroad come together at events organized by Eritrean communities to celebrate and attend seminars on current issues about their homeland. Eritreans don’t forget their culture and identity wherever they go. It’s just something natural. Although I don’t think there has been that much of an activity because of Covid-19, the Eritrean diaspora have been helping out one another for all those years. Think about the festivals that used to be held at Bologna, Italy, where Eritreans from all corners of the world gathered around to express their solidarity to the struggle for the freedom of their country. I would say that the struggles the Eritrean diaspora have carried out is fantastic. Not only did they have a big role in the struggle for Eritrea’s independence but the younger generation is continuing the legacy of their parents.

• As a musician who has been in the field for most of his life, what do you think of the young Eritrean musicians?

I believe that we have very talented and skilled musicians. And I am always happy to see that we are going somewhere in the music industry. What I want to stress in this topic is that we need to know our culture and where we come from when writing music if you want to be recognized for something that is only yours. People won’t be interested if you are playing something they are familiar with. People want to see and hear something different. We have many traditional beats such as Emblta (traditional horn), Abangala (traditional stringed instrument), Meleket (traditional horn) Kirar (traditional stringed instrument). I am sure if we study those instruments and experiment with them, we can have our own brand that we would be known for internationally. The young artists are doing a great job. I advise them all to keep up the good job and focus on making great music with the support of our rich culture mixed with modern music.

Mixing the traditional and modern instruments does not mean you are changing the culture but experimenting with enhancing the music. This is something we can definitely do.

Source: Ministry of Information Eritrea

Message from Ambassador Sophia Tesfamariam Chair – African Group of Permanent Representatives at the United Nations

Editor’s note: recently it was announced that Eritrea’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador Sophia Tesfamariam, would serve as Chair of the African Group of Permanent Representatives at the UN for the month of June 2021. Undoubtedly, this is a highly significant moment, both for her individually and the nation of Eritrea as a whole. Here, we offer a brief overview of the UN and some background about the African Group, while also sharing Ambassador Sophia’s message upon her assuming the position of Chair of the African Group.

Established on 24 October 1945, the UN is a multipurpose international organization that currently comprises 193 Member States. Headquartered in New York City, the UN also has regional offices in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi. The UN has six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.

According to its Charter, the UN aims “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights,… to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.” In addition to maintaining peace and security, the UN seeks to fulfill several other important objectives. These include: developing friendly relations among countries based on respect for the principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples; achieving global cooperation to address international economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian challenges and problems; respecting and promoting human rights; and serving as a center where countries can organize and coordinate their actions and activities toward these various ends.

One of the UN’s most important structures is the UN General Assembly (UNGA). The UNGA, which is the main deliberative, policymaking, and representative organ of the UN and comprises all 193 Member States, provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of international issues including peace and security. Each of the 193 Member States in the UNGA has one vote. The votes taken on designated important issues, such as recommendations on peace and security, the election of UN Security Council and Economic and Social Council members, and budgetary questions, require a two-thirds majority of Member States, but other questions are decided by a simple majority.

Within the UNGA, Member States are divided into various geographical groupings. These are the groupings through which elections are conducted into various UN bodies and agencies. The continent of Africa is allocated 3 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, 14 members on ECOSOC, 13 Members on the Human Rights Council and the President of the General Assembly in years ending 4 and 9.

The Africa Group at the United Nations is made up of the 54 African Union Member States at the UN. The bloc coordinates its efforts on various topics, ranging from health and migration to issues of peace and security. The group generally holds regular meetings to receive briefings from guests and UN officials and discuss on UN resolutions and topics so that a common African position can be reached.

The group is chaired by an Ambassador from a Member State, with the position rotating monthly. The African Union Observer Mission serves as a coordinating secretariat for the group by arranging meetings, supporting the Chair, and generally providing logistical and administrative assistance where necessary.

Message from Ambassador Sophia Tesfamariam, Chair African Group

It is both an honor and privilege to serve the African Group (AG) for the first time. It is not a task I take lightly and know that it will be a most rewarding experience. It provides a platform to engage with other stakeholders on behalf of the AG, advance the visibility of our membership at the UN, and hone new skills.

With the pandemic continuing to rage, 2021 will be a critical year for Africa. The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on all 17 SDGs has shown that it is not just a health crisis but rather, a global human and socio-economic crisis. The impact of the COVID- 19 pandemic threatens to reverse progress, hitting those most vulnerable hardest, leaving many behind further.

Addressing the pandemic-related global health and socioeconomic recovery, effects of climate change, reducing biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation will take center stage for the foreseeable future. As the recent discussions during the Africa Dialogue Series showed, Africa can leverage its many opportunities to help strengthen resilience to overcome its myriad challenges.

Africa’s increasing youth demographics and its wealth of natural resources offer distinct advantages for the development of its trade, industry, employment, and tourism sectors. Science, technology, and innovation have been identified as being key to economic transformation in Africa. Africa needs to reaffirm its identity and take ownership of its future.

It is only when Africa’s economies, the quality of its infrastructure, the standards of its health and educational institutions, the level of its artistic, scientific and technological products, the effectiveness of its institutions and enterprises, and more importantly the quality of life of its citizens, reflect more accurately its great potential that we can rightly speak of Africa taking its rightful place in the world.

The Africa Group will explore all avenues for Africa’s post-COVID recovery and towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, in fulfillment of Agenda 2063, and its aspirations for the Africa we want.

Source: Ministry of Information Eritrea

Aligidir Farm: Agricultural Hub of Eritrea

Eritrea’s Crops and Livestock Corporation (ECLC) carries out vast agricultural activates across the country. Similar to the other farm areas such as Gherset, Fanko Rawi, Fanko Tsumue, Keteay and Katchero, the Corporation carries out a wide range of agricultural activities including livestock development, fruits and vegetable farming and crops cultivation in Aligider, a very fertile farm area in Gash-Barka region. Most of the crops cultivation activities in the area rely on seasonal rain, while water streams from the highlands are judiciously utilized in the cultivation of cereals and cash-crops. Besides, the fruit and vegetable plantations are mostly supported by advanced irrigation systems.

The ECLC provides opportunities and supports the residents of Tesenai sub-zone and other areas of the Gash-Barka region to encourage them engage in irrigation based farm activities. The ECLC activities include technical and machinery assistance in addition to provision of improved seeds and pesticides to the farmers.

The ECLC farm projects mainly focus on plantation of onions, tomatoes, pepper, and pumpkin, while teff, sesame and various other improved sorghum seeds have been cultivated in the vast agricultural plains of this fertile farm zone. In the case of fruit plantation, a wide range of orange, mango and lemon farms have been developed and all the agricultural harvest has been distributed to local markets at fair prices.

Aligidir Farm raises Halfa and Holstein cow species and the dairy products have been distributed to local markets. In addition to the supply of milk products, the farm has also been providing meat to various boarding educational institutions. The Aligidir project is divided in to different sections known as “Cambo”- since the Italian colonial period. “Cambo Oto”, which means eighth camp, for instance, is currently cultivated with select varieties of orange, lemon, mango and papaya trees.

Generally, Aligidir farm has been creating employment opportunity for the residents of Tesenai sub-zone and other neighboring administrative areas. According to Mr. Dawit Gebreab, Manager of Aligidir Farm, the ECLC levels the farm lands, excavates water diversion canals, distributes improved seeds and allocates land plots to farmers. With such support, the farmers are now able to harvest from 40 to 60 quintals of cereal crops per hectare.

There are times where the farmers cultivate their farmlands relaying on seasonal rain, which sometimes could be delayed or become a dry season due to environmental causes. In such cases, seasonal water streams from the Gash River are diverted to be utilized for the cultivation of vast farmlands. The ECLC supports the farmers in every farm activity and thus the farmers harvest abundant agricultural produce.

Apart from the fruit and vegetable farming, crops and green animal feed has also been cultivated in the Aligidir farm and distributed to different livestock development projects being run by the ECLC. The supply of these green animal feed has been making a difference in augmenting milk production of the dairy cows.

As regards to the current human resource capacity in the project, Mr. Dawit noted that around 200 degree, diploma and certificate graduates of different disciplines have been making due contribution in all farm activities. Graduates in Plant Science, Agronomy and Horticulture, for instance, have been working in crops, vegetables and fruits protection, providing technical assistance and making supervision in farms of the Cooperation and individual farmers. They also make sure that the plantations are in good condition and free of pests. The technical assistance includes seed selection, assisting the farmers to increase their know-how in identifying favorable season and viable setting for the cultivation of the select seed as well as on judicious utilization of water.

Animal Science graduates have also been engaged in providing regular veterinary services in the Aligidir farm and private farm projects in the sub-zone and other districts of the region. The veterinary services that have been offered are free of charge to all farmers and pastoralists in the region. Agricultural engineers on their part have been toiling hard in leveling of farmlands, protecting the farmland from being swamped by water streams from the diversion canals and maintain irrigation materials.

There are plans to further expand the farm areas in Aligidir and the ECLC has been working to ensure that the cultivation of fruits, vegetables and crops will have remarkable impact in meeting local demands in all seasons. Efforts have also been made to preserve the indigenous sheep and cattle species, while artificial insemination activates have been intensified on the imported dairy cows in a bid to develop and make a difference in the provision of meat and dairy products. Above all, the major plan is to irrigate additional 500 hectares making use of the abundant water resources so far impounded in Aligidir Dam.

The sustainability of Aligidir farm is very viable; fertility of farmlands and water resources make it a promising area in carrying out any sort of agricultural activities. Pilot projects on potato and teff have shown remarkable outcome and hence, the ECLC has been working hard to expand the cultivation of such produces and in convincing farmers engage in such activities. Agronomists, horticulture and generally plant science and animal science graduates we met at the farm projects expressed their willingness to make their input in the development of the farm activities being carried out in Aligidir with the knowledge and experience they have so far acquired.

According to Mr. Dawit, Aligidir farm project is very promising. The farmers are keen to expanding their agricultural activities in this area owing to the availability of abundant seasonal water streams from the highlands. In times of scarcity of rainfall, the farmers make use of diverted water streams and such an option boosts their confidence in cultivating more and more hectares every year.

The Government also provides support of tractors at a fair price of 300 Nakfa per hour while private tractors do the same job at 1000 Nakfa. With the provision of tractors, summed up with technical assistance of experts and provision of pesticides as well as the availability of sustainable water resource, the farms have managed to harvest 60 quintals of crop per hectare. Provision of veterinary service has also been contributing in augmenting the number of livestock in the Tesenei sub-zone and in Gash-Barka region in general.

Aligidir was a renowned agricultural area since the Italian colonial era and with the efforts that have been made over the past independence years, the farm zone has been reinstated and further boosted its potential to become an agro-industrial hub of the country. Fruits, crops and oil seeds, as well as cotton plantations and livestock resources are set to be harvested in abundance both for domestic use and for export.

Source: Ministry of Information Eritrea

Potable water project in Keren

The first phase of the potable water project in Keren city worth of over 14 million Nakfa has been finalized.

The project that is being conducted in cooperation with the Anseba region administration, Project Adi-Halo, members of the Defense Forces and the public includes installation of 22 km water pipes, four reservoirs that could hold 3 thousand barrels of water as well as water pumps.

Indicating that the project that started in 2020 is being conducted with internal capacity, Mr. Shishay Tesfay expressed appreciation for the commitment and participation of the members of the Eritrean Defense Forces.

Mr. Abraha Girmatsion, head of Water Supply in Keren, said that with the growing population of Keren city the project will have significant contribution in alleviating the potable water supply problem of the residents.

Commending the contribution and participation the residents demonstrated in the implementation of the project, Mr. Shishay called for judicious use of the project for its sustainability.

Source: Ministry of Information Eritrea

Africa Parliament Scuffle Upends Leadership Talks

A well-aimed kick. A strong shove, body checks, shouting and a fight for dominance.

This isn’t a rowdy football (soccer) match. This is the latest session of the Pan African Parliament.

The continental body brings together African legislators to implement the policy of the African Union. And its latest session, this week, was suspended amid a physical scuffle over leadership that prompted this Portuguese-speaking delegate to call for help as a literal fight happened on the floor:

“Please call the police,” he pleaded, through a translator, over the official feed provided by South Africa’s government, as delegates in suits and traditional regalia shoved, kicked and wrestled with each other at the venue in Johannesburg.

“Please call the police, put an order here. It is urgent, it is urgent. You should call the police. Please call the police. Please call the police. This is urgent. This is urgent, please call the police, please call the police. Please. Please, call the police.”

Let’s go to the replay

VOA watched the two-hour ordeal. In the style of Africa’s favorite sport, football (soccer), here’s how the action unfolded:

We start on May 31 with all 229 MPs, taking to the field at this venue near Johannesburg. The goal: elect a new president.

The Southern African bloc, led by feisty, far-left striker Julius Malema of South Africa — the sharp-tongued leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters party — strode out onto the field with strong support of their region’s candidate, Zimbabwe’s Fortune Charumbira.

But they were met by a strong defense from their West and East African opponents, who each back a different candidate. The Southern side pushed their offensive, arguing that the leadership should rotate by region — a West African currently holds the top spot.

About 28 minutes into the first half, things got loud, with one faction chanting for elections. And then, a few minutes later, it got physical. In the five minutes of chaos that unfolded, members committed most of the classic red-card fouls: kicking, tripping, jumping, charging, striking, holding and pushing — basically, everything but touching the ball, though some members did try to grab the plastic ballot box. MPs also rushed the podium several more times before the speaker called things off.

And the post-match analysis

Here’s the Southern African take on it, from South African parliamentary spokesman Moloto Mothapo. The Pan African Parliament is not supposed to be a blood sport, he said.

“The two caucuses’ attempts to continue with electing the new president and ignoring advice from the AU that the well-established principle of geographical rotation within the union be observed is a sign that they do not value unity in the continent,” he told VOA.

From Nairobi, pan-African activist Daniel Mwambonu was quick to pin the blame on not just West Africa, but on the country that he believes taught them to play rough.

“The Francophone region is putting personal interests first,” he told VOA “… So basically, they are trying to reduce the African parliament into a dictatorship of some sort. What we witnessed in countries that are controlled by France, there’s actually coups every time we have a new leader, he or she has removed from power by the military. This situation we are witnessing in Mali is because these countries that were colonized by France and they actually behave like colonizers themselves because of the French assimilation policy.”

And from Ghana, Pan-African activist Sarfo Abebrese notes that no Southern African has held the presidency, which bolsters Southern Africa’s case for a change of leadership. But Abebrese, a lawyer, said the Southern team didn’t exactly play by the complex rules of the game.

“I do not think that I have much time to go into the nitty-gritty of the rotation argument,” he said.

“But suffice it to say that if you have a situation where South Africa thinks that they really, really need to have a candidate at the helm of affairs for the first time, they have to go by the rules, that is all that I can say. Get amendments done and Article 93 and then let’s get back and get the right thing to be done for the sake of Africa and for African unity and pan Africanism that the parliament is supposed to stand for.”

Mwambonu, who heads the Global Pan-Africanism Network, says a possible solution is to bring in more referees from civil society. Here’s the call he would have made.

“We’d have issued them a red card,” he said. “And if we were there, actually, we would not have allowed that chaos to happen. Because we are really passionate about Africa, and that’s what pan-Africanism is all about: putting the interests of Africa first.”

And that is one thing that all of the parties here seem to agree on: Africa, as a continent, was not helped by this. Nor, apparently, was this important legislative body: the parliament called off its presidential election, leaving the organization without a clear leader until they meet on the field again.

Source: Voice of America

Tigray Rebels Say They Intend to Fight Until Victory

Shops remained shuttered, some government workers hadn’t been paid and the town’s main hospital was laid to waste. But the Tigrayan fighters still claimed victory, swaggering through the streets of Hawzen with their guns.

It wouldn’t last long.

Hawzen, a rural town in the ethnic Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, is a microcosm of the challenge facing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed — and a warning that the war here is unlikely to end soon.

When The Associated Press arrived in May, Tigrayan fighters had recently retaken Hawzen from Ethiopian government troops, laying claim again to land that has switched control multiple times since the war began in November.

To the Ethiopian government, the fighters are terrorists who have defied the authority of Abiy in the federal capital, Addis Ababa.

But almost everyone the AP spoke with in Hawzen supported them and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, the party of the region’s ousted and now-fugitive leaders.

“The people elected us, so we are not terrorists,” said fighter Nurhussein Abdulmajid, standing confidently in the middle of the road with a gun on his shoulder, as a crowd listened. “He [Abiy] is the one who is the terrorist. A terrorist is someone who massacres people.”

Larger war

The battle for Hawzen is part of a larger war in Tigray between the Ethiopian government and the Tigrayan rebels that has led to massacres, gang rapes and the flight of more than 2 million of the region’s 6 million people.

While the government now holds many urban centers, fierce fighting continues in remote rural towns like Hawzen.

The AP was able to get through an Ethiopian military roadblock and cross the front line to get a rare look at a town held by Tigrayan fighters, who carried light weapons they said they had seized from opponents.

If anything, recent atrocities appear to have increased support for the TPLF.

One 19-year-old said she had been raped by an Ethiopian soldier and was now six months pregnant. After trying and failing to terminate the pregnancy herself, she is now desperately hoping someone in a local hospital will help her.

As soon as possible, she said, she wants to join the rebels.

“I want to go,” she said, as she broke down in tears. “You will die if you stay home, and you will die if you go out there. … I would rather die alongside the fighters.”

The AP does not name victims of sexual abuse.

The TPLF was on top of a coalition that ruled Ethiopia for nearly three decades. That changed in 2018, when Abiy rose to power as a reformist. He alienated the TPLF with efforts to make peace with its archenemy, Eritrea, and rid the federal government of corruption.

Tigray’s leaders fought back. In 2020, after a national vote was suspended because of the pandemic, the TPLF went ahead with its own elections in the region.

Asserting that Tigrayan fighters had attacked a military base, Abiy sent federal troops into Tigray in November. Government forces are now allied with militias from the rival Amhara ethnic group as well as soldiers from neighboring Eritrea, who are blamed for many atrocities.

‘Protracted’ conflict

Abiy acknowledged recently that the highly mobile Tigrayan guerrillas were stretching the Ethiopian military, springing ambushes from the rugged highlands where they hide.

In April, the International Crisis Group predicted that entrenched resistance on both sides meant “the conflict could evolve into a protracted war.”

Billene Seyoum, a spokeswoman for Abiy’s office, told reporters on Thursday that “the suffering of Ethiopians who are victims of a situation that is not of their choosing is a source of pain.” Efforts to alleviate the suffering of Tigrayans “have been marred by various challenges given the complexity of any armed engagement,” she said.

Residents of Hawzen said the town of a few thousand people had seen fighting four times since November. Many spoke disapprovingly of Abiy, saying they no longer trusted him to keep them safe.

As the two sides fight, civilians are suffering heavily. More and more children are caught up in shelling in Hawzen and other nearby areas, with at least 32 admitted to the regional Ayder Hospital in Mekelle for blast injuries from December to April. Thirteen left with limbs amputated, according to official records.

Some of those victims might have had limbs saved if they had received first aid at the nearest health centers. But such facilities are shells right now — systematically looted, vandalized and turned upside down.

Eritrean soldiers set up camp in the Hawzen Primary Hospital, which once boasted of equipment ranging from X-ray machines to baby incubators. Now it is trashed and looted, and heaps of stones litter the compound where fighters had set up defensive positions.

Many Tigrayans from contested towns like Hawzen end up in camps for the internally displaced in Mekelle, mostly women and children.

And so the fight continues.

Source: Voice of America