Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region erupted in violence 17 months ago when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to overthrow the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Here is a timeline of the conflict:
– 2020: Troops invade Tigray –
Military action begins on November 4, 2020, when Abiy orders a response to what he calls a “treasonable” attack on federal army camps in Tigray.
He blames the attack on the region’s ruling party, the TPLF, which dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly three decades before he took office in 2018.
– ‘War Crimes’ –
After 10 days of fighting, the United Nations warns of possible war crimes in Tigray.
Neighboring Eritrea – which signed a peace deal with Abiy in 2018 that helped him win the Nobel Peace Prize – is said to have sent troops to Tigray to help Ethiopian forces.
Two weeks later, government troops took Tigray’s capital, Mekele.
On November 28, Abiy declares military operations “complete”, but fighting continues.
– 2021: “Ethnic Cleansing” –
In February 2021, Amnesty International says Eritrean soldiers killed “hundreds of civilians” in the holy city of Axum in November.
Ethiopia and Eritrea have denied the involvement of Eritrean armed forces for months, although Washington speaks of “ethnic cleansing”.
On March 23, Abiy admits the presence of Eritrean troops and officials say they massacred more than 100 civilians in Axum.
Elections will be held in large parts of Ethiopia in June, but not in Tigray.
– Tigrayans advance –
The rebels make a shock comeback, recapturing Mekele in late June before moving into the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar.
On July 2, the UN says 400,000 people in Tigray are on the brink of starvation.
Abiy will be sworn in for a new five-year term on October 4.
Two weeks later, Ethiopian planes launch deadly attacks on Tigray.
In late October, the Tigrayans claim control of two key cities in Amhara – just a few hundred kilometers north of Addis Ababa.
– Abiy in front –
On November 2, 2021, Ethiopia declares a nationwide state of emergency.
The following day, a joint UN-Ethiopian report said crimes against humanity may have been committed by “all sides”.
Abiy arrives at the front on November 24 to personally lead the counter-offensive, official media say.
In the first weeks of December, the government says it has retaken a number of towns, including Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
– rebels withdraw –
On December 20, the rebels say they are withdrawing from Amhara and Afar and retreating to Tigray.
Two days later, the government says its forces will not advance any further into Tigray, raising hopes of a possible cooling off in the conflict.
At the end of the year, the UN says dozens of civilians were killed in an “intense series of airstrikes” in Tigray between December 19 and 24.
– 2022: More airstrikes –
On January 7, a drone attack on a displaced persons camp in Dedebit, northwest Tigray, killed 56 people, rebels said.
Aid agencies are suspending operations in the region and the UN says “the intensification of airstrikes is alarming”.
On January 14, the UN put the death toll for the month at at least 108 civilians and said war crimes may have been committed.
On January 25, Tigrayan rebels said they were “committed” to resuming fighting in Afar.
– “indefinite humanitarian ceasefire” –
The UN estimates that 4.6 million people in Tigray lack access to adequate food.
On March 24, the government declared an “indefinite humanitarian ceasefire” to expedite the delivery of emergency aid to Tigray.
The next day, Tigrayan rebels agree to a “cessation of hostilities” if access to aid is eased.
According to the UN, the first international aid convoy in three months will arrive in Tigray’s capital, Mekele, on April 1st.