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Ethiopia accuses World Health Organization chief of backing defiant Tigray region

Ethiopia accuses World Health Organization chief of backing defiant Tigray region”

Ethiopian Army Chief of Staff, General Birhanu Jula, in a televised address accused Dr Ghebreyesus of supporting and trying to procure arms and diplomatic support for Tigray. The AP is not naming the official because they could not be reached directly.

Long-simmering political tensions between the prime minister, Abiy, and the TPLF, the former ruling party, with each accusing the other of illegitimacy, finally boiled over on November 4.

"What definitely is clear is that fighting is ongoing and it is sporadic, you never know where it's going to happen", said Hameed Nuru, the Sudan country representative for the World Food Program.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, last year's Nobel Peace Prize victor, unleashed a military campaign in the Tigray region on November 4 with the declared aim of unseating its ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which he accuses of defying his government and seeking to destabilise it.

Behind the rival claims, the region's refugee crisis amplified as Sudan reported 36,000 people had now streamed across its borders to escape the violence.

The news came after government forces seized the towns of Shire and Axum after a three-day deadline given by Prime Minister Abiy to Tigray's forces to surrender expired on Tuesday.

Forces loyal to that party are fighting the government in the restive Tigray region. The Ethiopian government has, however, ruled out talks with the TPLF.

"This could unravel Ethiopia and also Sudan", he said of the crisis. "This is not true and I want to say that I am on only one side and that is the side of peace".

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"At this point neither party, from everything we hear, is interested in mediation", said Tibor Nagy, the top U.S. diplomat for Africa. Roads are blocked and airports closed.

Alarmed by the potential for disaster in Ethiopia and beyond, 17 US senators urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a letter Thursday to engage Abiy directly to push for an immediate cease-fire. Both Eritrea and Ethiopia deny the allegation.

Thousands of others have fled the fighting and airstrikes, crossing to neighboring Sudan.

Almost 30,000 Ethiopians have now fled into neighbouring Sudan and analysts say the hostilities could destabilise the entire Horn of Africa region.

Children under 18 make up about 45% of the refugees, he said.

Almost half of the refugees are children, and the United Nations called the conditions they are facing "extremely harsh". U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for the opening of humanitarian corridors "and the truces that might be necessary for humanitarian aid to be delivered". Meanwhile, a senior Ethiopian official, Redwan Hussein, said the government plans a fact-finding mission into the humanitarian situation that "will not take more than a week".

An official in Ethiopia's Amhara state said TPLF forces fired rockets at the regional capital, Bahir Dar, early Friday morning.

"Internationalizing the conflict, that is one absolute danger that we are doing our best, the entire region is doing its best, to avoid", he said.



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