US: Presence of Eritrea soldiers in Tigray inflaming tragic situation
WASHINGTON - The United States envoy to Horn of Africa Mike Hammer insists the presence of Eritrean troops in Tigray region is complicating the situation, adding that the continued stay is not healthy and should be condemned in totality.
Investigations done by independent experts established that the Eritrean troops were actively involved in Tigray war contrary to international laws, a move which has renewed fighting in Ethiopia, a country also struggling with inter-clan conflicts which have significantly hampered stability.
The envoy, who has been calling for ceasefire, accused the Eritreans of inflaming the conflict, which has left thousands of people dead and millions displaced. The actual number of the deaths in Tigray is yet to be published by independent teams.
"The presence of Eritrean troops in Ethiopia only serves to complicate matters, and inflame an already tragic situation," said Mike Hammer on Tuesday , while condemning Eritrea's involvement in the renewed Tigray war which enters the fourth week.
The envoy, who was recently deployed by President Joe Biden, asked stakeholders who can directly reach Eritrea President Isaias Afwerki to immediately ask him to pull out the soldiers from Tigray. There are concerns that Ethiopian soldiers are sneaking to Eritrea for further training.
"External foreign actors should respect Ethiopia's territorial integrity integrity and avoid fuelling this conflict. We have said this repeatedly," he said. "Those communicating with Asmara we encourage them to inform authorities that this must stop.”
The number of Eritrean troops fighting in Tigray could not be established but they are mainly based in Western part of the region and are suspected to be making entry through Sudan. Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF] claims the foreign troops have been even sponsoring drone attacks in Mekelle.
Since renewed fighting erupted about three weeks ago, the Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] has launched about four airstrikes in Mekelle, killing innocent civilians mainly children. In retaliation, TPLF has pitched tent in Amhara and Afar regions where it's making advances southwards.
Ethiopian authorities rejected an independent United Nations experts report which claimed massacre has been committed in Tigray, arguing that authors of the report were politically motivated. Last year, UN Special Rapporteur to Eritrea confirmed that Eritrean soldiers indeed sneaked into Tigray where they committed murder.