A United Nations team was shot at and later detained by the Ethiopian National Defense Force on Sunday after the team reportedly ignored instructions issued by the army, Ethiopia’s government has confirmed.
The team were in an area they were not supposed to be, according to government spokesman Redwan Hussein. But the UN is yet to confirm or deny the allegations made by the Ethiopian government.
The AFP quoted Hussein saying: “Some of the UN staff were actually detained and some were shot at. They broke two check-points to drive to areas where they were not supposed to go, and that they were told not to go. When they were about to break the third one, they were shot at and detained.”
It is reported that the UN convoy was on its way to visit a camp for Eritrean refugees in the northern region of Tigray where fighting has been going on in the last few weeks between the federal army and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The region of Tigray, a vast hilly and arid area, is named after the Tigrinya-speaking Tigray people, Ethiopia’s fourth-largest ethnic group who are less than 10% of the country’s people.
In spite of the relatively small number of Tigrayans in the country, the TPLF has shaped post-Cold War Ethiopia more than any other political organization in the country.
In 1991, the militant group-cum political party led a coalition of militias and movements to overthrow the communist People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. After that, the group was part of governing coalitions, and at a point produced a prime minister in the late Meles Zenawi.
Due to disagreements with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed‘s Progress Party in 2019, the TPLF left his governing coalition.