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AFP
November 30, 2020

Tigray hospitals flooded: Ethiopia PM declares victory

World

AFP
November 30, 2020

Addis Ababa: Hospitals in the capital of Ethiopia’s Tigray region faced an influx of trauma patients, an aid group said on Sunday, a day after federal troops claimed control of the city and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said fighting was over.

Abiy, last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, declared victory on Saturday evening in a three-week military confrontation with leaders of Tigray’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

But a communications blackout in Tigray has made it impossible to independently verify whether the regional capital Mekele is completely under federal government control.

It has also frustrated efforts to obtain a full picture of fierce fighting in Tigray that has left thousands dead and sent tens of thousands of refugees streaming across the border into Sudan.

On Sunday the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said health workers in Mekele were struggling with shortages of food and medical supplies including body bags.

At Ayder Referral Hospital, one of the city’s biggest, the ICRC said it "found approximately 80 percent of patients to be suffering from trauma injuries,", without specifying how the injuries were sustained.

"The influx of wounded forced the hospital to suspend many other medical services so that limited staff and resources could be devoted to emergency medical care," the ICRC said in a statement.

It also noted that Mekele was "quiet" on Sunday, the latest indication the TPLF opted to retreat rather than face government troops in a city that, before the conflict, had a population of half a million.

Abiy announced on November 4 he was sending federal troops into Tigray in response to attacks by pro-TPLF forces on federal army camps.

The move marked a dramatic escalation of tensions between Abiy and the TPLF, which dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly three decades before anti-government protests swept Abiy to office in 2018.

After securing control of western Tigray and giving TPLF leaders a 72-hour ultimatum to surrender, Abiy announced on Thursday he had ordered a "final offensive" against pro-TPLF forces in Mekele.