On January 24, a convoy of humanitarian aids of the World Food Program bound for Tigray was blocked by the forces of the federal state of Afar. The news was given by the spokesman of the government of the regional state of Tigray, Getachew Reda, and was then taken up by several local and international press sources.
The WFP convoy, composed according to TPLF leaders of 27 vehicles loaded with food and medicines, was blocked in Afar territory despite the prior transit permit granted by the federal government in Addis Ababa.
The reason for the blockade, according to Afar sources, would be due to the continuing clashes in the area of Abala, where the TPLF authorities have reported a few days before an attack conducted jointly by the Afar and Eritrean forces.
According to what was stated by the UN on January 28, there are now 9 million Ethiopian citizens affected by the food emergency caused by the conflict, while according to the World Food Program 40% of Tigray’s citizens are at imminent risk as a result of malnutrition and lack of medicines.
The humanitarian situation is aggravated by the continuing drought in most of the northern regions of the country, where rainfall has been absent for months, compromising harvests and causing significant losses to livestock farms.
The blocking of WFP resources has triggered a new crisis, and on January 25 Tigrinya’s TDF forces launched a wide-ranging offensive along the border with the regional state of Afar, once again taking control of large portions of territory across the border.
The most incisive action seems to have been concentrated in the area between Didig Sala and Abala, along a front of almost 100 km, where the TDF forces penetrated deep into the area conquering both towns and reaching the districts of Berhale, Erebti and Megala.
Further north, fighting was reported in the districts of Koneba and Dallol, while reports of clashes between ENDF and TDF forces south of Alamata have not yet been officially confirmed.
The renewed clashes have led to numerous protests on social media and on the media of the Afar regional state, characterized by accusations to the federal government in Addis Ababa, which would have failed to provide air cover against the incursions of the TDF, allowing again the conquest of some areas close to the border.
On January 27th the OLA guerrillas announced that they had launched an attack against ENDF forces in the area of Guji, in the eastern regions of Oromia, then divulged images showing them with weapons captured from federal forces. Even in this case it proved difficult to confirm the nature of the attack and its scope.
In Addis Ababa, on January 26, the government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared an early end to the state of emergency, justifying the decision as the result of a changed national security framework now under the control of federal forces.
Finally, on January 29, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed paid a state visit to the United Arab Emirates, where he was received by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, with whom he discussed the evolution of the crisis in Tigray and the main issues of regional politics. The United Arab Emirates have made no secret of their support for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in managing the conflict, albeit within a controversial matrix of regional interests that has made alliances and fronts decidedly fluid. Abu Dhabi’s opening up to Ethiopia, in fact, is viewed with suspicion and caution by Egypt, which has always been in tune with the United Arab Emirates, as a result of the delicate issue connected to the development of the GERD dam.