Would Facebook make this public if they had not decided to proceed with a human rights review? Unlikely

Source: Reuters

Facebook owner to 'assess feasibility' of human rights review on Ethiopia practices

By Elizabeth Culliford

(Reuters) - Facebook owner Meta Platforms said on Thursday it would “assess the feasibility” of commissioning an independent human rights assessment into its work in Ethiopia, after its oversight board recommended a review of how Facebook and Instagram have been used to spread content that heightens the risk of violence there.

The board, set up by the company to address criticism over its handling of problematic material, makes binding decisions on a small number of challenging content moderation cases and provides non-binding policy recommendations.

Meta has been under scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators over user safety and its handling of abuses on its platforms across the world, particularly after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal documents that showed the company’s struggles in policing content in countries where such speech was most likely to cause harm, including Ethiopia.

Thousands have died and millions have been displaced during a year-long conflict between the Ethiopian government and rebellious forces from the northern Tigray region.

The social media giant said it has “invested significant resources in Ethiopia to identify and remove potentially harmful content,” as part of its response to the board’s December recommendations on a case involving content posted in the country.

The oversight board last month upheld Meta’s original decision to remove a post alleging the involvement of ethnic Tigrayan civilians in atrocities in Ethiopia’s Amhara region. As Meta had restored the post after the user’s appeal to the board, the company had to again remove the content.

On Thursday, Meta said while it had taken the post down, it disagreed with the board’s reasoning that it should have been removed because it was an “unverified rumor” that significantly increased the risk of imminent violence. It said this would impose “a journalistic publishing standard on people.”

An oversight board spokesman said in a statement: “Meta’s existing policies prohibit rumors that contribute to imminent violence that cannot be debunked in a meaningful timeframe, and the Board made recommendations to ensure these policies are effectively applied in conflict situations.”

“Rumors alleging an ethnic group is complicit in atrocities, as found in this case, have the potential to lead to grave harm to people,” they said.

The board had recommended that Meta commission a human rights due diligence assessment, to be completed in six months, which should include a review of Meta’s language capabilities in Ethiopia and a review of measures taken prevent the misuse of its services in the country.

However, the company said not all elements of this recommendation “may be feasible in terms of timing, data science or approach.” It said it would continue its existing human rights due diligence and should have an update on whether it could act on the board’s recommendation within the next few months.

Reuters’ previous reporting on Myanmar and other countries has investigated how Facebook struggled to monitor content across the world in different languages. In 2018, U.N. human rights investigators said the use of Facebook had played a key role in spreading hate speech that fueled violence in Myanmar.

Meta, which has said that it was too slow to prevent misinformation and hate in Myanmar, has said that the company now has native speakers worldwide reviewing content in more than 70 languages which work to stop abuse on its platforms in places where there is a heightened risk of conflict and violence.

The board also recommended that Meta rewrite its value statement on safety to reflect that online speech can pose a risk to the physical security of persons and their right to life. The company said it would make changes to this value, in a partial implementation of the recommendation.


“Diplomats with knowledge of Abiy’s campaign and dispatches from aid agencies attribute much of the successes to its aerial assaults, utilizing drones and other equipment that they said had been bought from the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.”

Source: Bloomberg

By Simon Marks +FollowJanuary 4, 2022, 8:48 AM UTC

  •  Aerial assault death toll was compiled by aid agencies
  •  Thousands of people have died in 14 months of civil war
People injured in an airstrike in Togoga receive medical treatment at a hospital in Mekele, Ethiopia, on June 24, 2021.  People injured in an airstrike in Togoga receive medical treatment at a hospital in Mekele, Ethiopia, on June 24, 2021.   Photographer: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

At least 143 people have been killed and 213 wounded in air strikes in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region since October last year, according to aid agencies.

Civil war has been raging in Ethiopia for the past 14 months, pitting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s federal forces against dissident troops loyal to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front. The conflict has swung in Abiy’s favor over recent weeks, with the Tigrayans retreating to within their home province from the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions. 

The government has attributed its advances to a land-based offensive, which saw Abiy join the Ethiopian National Defence Forces on the front lines. But diplomats with knowledge of Abiy’s campaign and dispatches from aid agencies attribute much of the successes to its aerial assaults, utilizing drones and other equipment that they said had been bought from the United Arab Emirates and Turkey. They asked not to be identified because they feared government retribution or being expelled from Ethiopia.

Abiy visited Turkey in August last year, where he met President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and signed off on a military and financial cooperation accord, the Ethiopian government announced at the time. The UAE and Turkish embassies in Ethiopia didn’t respond to emails sent on Monday seeking comment.

The humanitarian aid agencies have recorded 40 aerial strikes since Oct. 18 last year. One barrage carried out on the northern town of Alamata of Dec. 16 claimed 38 lives, while 86 people sustained injuries, the dispatches show. Another on an area east of Mekelle, the Tigrayan regional capital, on Dec. 20 caused 24 fatalities, while eight people were hurt, they said. Bloomberg was unable to independently verify the information or ascertain how many of those who died were civilians.

Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. special envoy to the Horn of Africa, referenced reports about the use of armed drone use in Ethiopia and the attendant risk that civilians could be harmed during recent visits to the UAE and Turkey. The U.S. had made it clear to all external parties engaged in the conflict that they needed to press for negotiations and end the war, he said. 

Billene Seyoum, Abiy’s spokesperson for Abiy, and Selamawit Kassa, state minister of communications in Ethiopia, didn’t respond to questions about the use of drones in Tigray. Billene told reporters last month that territorial gains by Ethiopian forces were made “in very heavy battles” that cleared the TPLF from several towns. 

Last month, Tigrayan leader Debretsion Gebremichael ordered a strategic retreat by his troops and urged the United Nations Security Council to oversee an end to the civil war, which has claimed thousands of lives and left millions in need of aid. He also urged the United Nations to implement a no-fly zone for hostile aircraft over Tigray as well as an arms embargo on Ethiopia and its ally Eritrea.



“This spectrum of drone capability is like an air force on the cheap for the Ethiopian government forces. They acquired these drones, initially from Iran, then the Chinese ones from the Emiratis and finally the TB2 from Turkey, which allowed them to spot rebel ground troops and carry out precision strikes.“

Source: The Times

Rebels in Tigray say the use of drones against convoys has made progress impossibleRebels in Tigray say the use of drones against convoys has made progress impossibleREUTERS

Ethiopia’s civil war has become a testing ground for military drones that has made its people “guinea pigs”, rebel leaders have claimed.Multiple purchases of armed surveillance drones at a fraction of the cost of fighter jets and bombers have provided Ethiopia’s leader, Abiy Ahmed, with a war-winning weapon that has forced the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) into retreat.

The rebels in the northern Tigray region of Ethiopia have been fighting government forces since Abiy launched a military campaign in Tigray in November 2020.The conflict has been marked by reports of atrocities, including civilian massacres and mass rapes, by both sides. The United Nations has expressed concern over reports of large-scale displacement from western Tigray. Just 12 per cent of the food and other aid needed in the region has been delivered because of violence and blocked routes, the United Nations reported this week, with women, children and elderly most in need.

Abiy was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2019 but his tendency to use words such as “cancer”, “disease” and “weeds” to describe the once-dominant TPLF has cast doubt on his appetite to use the rebels’ withdrawal as an opportunity to strike a peace deal.Initially the rebels made such progress that they were within striking distance of Debra Birhan, 75 miles from the capital Addis Ababa. The government was facing a violent overthrow.

The TPLF claimed it “never had ambitions to regime-change or take over Addis”. The drone strikes on its convoys and supply lines made further progress impossible.

Getachew Reda, TPLF spokesman, denounced the countries selling their “deadly toys being operated from elsewhere in the world”.“

Our land has become a testing ground for different weapons technologies and our people are the guinea pigs,” he said.“

We have no idea what is being used against us, there are reports of different kinds of injuries and the eyes of the world are not on what is being done and what experiments are being carried out.”

The dramatic change in fortune for the TPLF and the role that armed drones have played highlights how the concept of warfare has been transformed in recent years. With drones and foreign expertise to operate them, the Ethiopian government has been able to gain aerial superiority over rebel forces that have neither the weapons to fight back nor any form of air defence to protect themselves.

Success for the government in Addis Ababa will be studied closely by other small nations needing to arm against internal or external adversaries. It will also boost the export of armed drones by countries that have developed their own technology such as Turkey, Iran and the United Arab Emirates.“

It’s no longer just the big powers such as the US, China, Russia, UK and France producing armed drones,” said Paul Scharre, a former senior Pentagon official who helped develop US policy on drones and is author of the award-winning Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War.“

Turkey and Iran are selling significant numbers abroad and for countries that can’t afford fighter aircraft — this is a game-changer. It means these countries can have air power at a much lower cost. The drones also perform surveillance missions, thus changing the whole tactical landscape.

Abiy Ahmed’s inflammatory language about the rebels has cast doubt on whether he wants a peace deal

Abiy Ahmed’s inflammatory language about the rebels has cast doubt on whether he wants a peace dealGETTY IMAGES“

Clearly they are not as advanced as F-35 stealth fighters but these countries [such as Ethiopia] don’t need F-35s or F-16s because armed drones provide them with the level of air power that suits their requirements.“

Drones also provide other advantages over the traditional fighter aircraft. They have longer endurance and can provide vital surveillance of the battlefield, allowing for precision strikes.”

Drones had a significant impact on changing the battle landscape in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 when Azerbaijan, supported by Turkish-supplied drones, won a 44-day war against Armenia for control of the disputed enclave. Turkish drone airpower also saved Tripoli in the war in Libya between the government of national accord (GNA) and the forces of retired Major-General Khalifa Haftar.

In Ethiopia, the Addis Ababa government began purchasing armed drones about a year ago. Turkey, with its Bayrakter TB2, and Iran, selling its Mohajer-6, were willing suppliers. The United Arab Emirates provided China’s Wing Loong-2 drone.

Each Bayrakter drone costs around $5 million and can carry four small laser-guided missiles. The Chinese drone is about $2 million and is armed with eight weapons, while the Mohajer-6, at an estimated $2 million, is fitted with two missiles.

By comparison, each US Reaper drone costs about $32 million, F-35s are $78 million each and the older variant of the F-16 is about $30 million.

Ninety per cent of armed drone transfers come from China. But with the US reluctant to sell its Reaper and other drones abroad, even to allies, countries such as Turkey and Iran have moved in to snatch some of the export potential from the Chinese.

Stacie Pettyjohn, director of the defence programme at the Washington-based Centre for a New American Security, said: “This spectrum of drone capability is like an air force on the cheap for the Ethiopian government forces. They acquired these drones, initially from Iran, then the Chinese ones from the Emiratis and finally the TB2 from Turkey, which allowed them to spot rebel ground troops and carry out precision strikes.“

The TB2 can stick around for about 24 hours, so they could find rebel forces who had no way of defending themselves.”The Tigrayans, she added, were trying to acquire an effective counter to the drones. “But air defence systems are more sophisticated and expensive.”

Meanwhile, the Abiy government is seeking to pass a supplementary budget of $2.5 billion to help rebuild areas destroyed in the civil war. It is unclear whether any of it will be used to buy more drones.The use of armed drones is no longer a choice solely for nation states. Modified commercial drones fitted with makeshift explosive devices in the hands of terrorists and jihadist insurgents is already a reality (Michael Evans writes).

Four years ago Isis revealed in a propaganda video that it had developed its own bomb-carrying quadcopter drones. The off-the-shelf drones not only proved effective weapon systems in Iraq and elsewhere but also demonstrated the heightened publicity value of such attacks from the air.Drone strikes create a greater sense of vulnerability than even a fighter bomber flying overhead and generate more media attention.

The innovative methods used by Isis will have encouraged other non-state actors engaged in conflicts around the world to devise their own drones.

However, more alarming is the possibility that terrorist organisations might be able to get their hands on bigger and better drones now that the export market has expanded so rapidly.China has shown no hesitation in offering its drones to overseas customers. Its CH-4 drone which looks like the US Reaper although is not as technologically advanced, has been sold to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

More than 100 countries now have armed or surveillance drones. The potential for such systems to end up in the wrong hands must be high


Source: Gebremeskel Gebremariam

Today, I reveal a story that I have kept private to myself for several months about what were the events that finally led to the murder of Maria, Yohannes, & Tedros.

I interviewed my friend who escaped the murder & here I share the story as told to me by him [medical doctor] whose name & whereabouts I will never share publicly but only privately to those who have a sincere desire to hear directly from him.

Today marks the 6th month of the murder of María Hernandez, emergency coordinator; Yohannes Halefom, assistant coordinator; & Tedros Gebremariam, driver.

My friend has sent me some photos in which I can clearly see Maria, Yohannes, & Tedros, posing next to other staff of @MSF at Abiyi Adi Hospital, central #Tigray, days before they were murdered.

My friend told me that Abiyi Adi Hospital had been occupied by the joint Ethiopian & Eritrean troops for several months. No civilian patients nor health professionals could enter the hospital.

The hospital was completely vandalised & changed into a trench. When my friend & other MSF staff arrived at Abi Adi, they were denied access to the hospital. So, they had to start serving the people at a health centre across one corner of the town.

Finally, they went to the hospital after the invading forces left and found it empty — no medicines & medical equipment inside — expensive medical equipment was found to be irreversibly damaged.

On behalf of the people of #Tigray, my sincere gratitude goes to @MSF  for making Abi Adi Hospital give medical service by rebuilding & fixing everything starting from zero. Everyone of the staff was equally a hero, & of course, the selfless Maria was at the core.

My friend [MD] had the chance of knowing all 3 of the victims very well. He can’t find enough words to describe each one of them. Maria was very selfless & always at the forefront; Johannes was very determined to serve his people no matter what; Tedros was always there day & night to help every one of the @MSF  staff.

So, who dared to steal these beautiful souls? Why were they savagely murdered? Here I start revealing the mysterious ordeal …

My friend is a passionate medical doctor who never hesitated to go to one of the darkest places on earth in March 2021 to serve people who’re languishing to death due to the absence of medical service thanks to the Ethiopian & Eritrean troops who destroyed Abi Adi Hospital.

When my friend was heading from Mekelle to Abi Adi in early March 2021, he was stopped by a group of Ethiopian soldiers at a checkpoint on the highway that connects Mekelle-AbiAdi. After they thoroughly searched his bag, they interrogated him arrogantly but let him pass.

He joined the team of MSF staff who had been serving there in a small health centre due to the destruction & occupation of Abi Adi Hospital by the Ethiopian & Eritrean troops on multiple periods of time. The MSF team was being led by an Indian expert at that time.

Then, Maria Hernandez arrived & replaced the Indian coordinator. She & her team managed to rehabilitate & fix everything starting from zero after the Ethiopian & Eritrean troops left the hospital in an absolute mess, having looted & vandalised it beyond repair.

However, things were not always smooth with the Ethiopian & Eritrean troops roaming throughout the town & its vicinity every now & then. The MSF team had their own camp where they get rest & food. But, their camp was not safe either.

On one night, my friend, having spent a very stressful day treating so many mothers, headed to the camp. During the night, he got an emergency call from his assistant at the hospital.

One of the cars of MSF was sent to pick & bring him to treat a mother who was on the verge of death due to complications of her pregnancy. It was past midnight.

As the car was rushing to the hospital, a dozen of men in Ethiopian military uniforms appeared on the road from nowhere pointing their Kalashnikovs at the car which had an @MSF  logo & flag.

They approached the car & ordered both the driver & my friend to get off the car. They did as they were told to do so. A dozen Ethiopian soldiers encircled my friend & his driver & started fiercely interrogating both of them, especially my friend.

The interrogation lasted for 45 minutes. For the whole period, a Kalashnikov was planted on the neck of my friend and he could feel the tip of the Kalashnikov putting pressure on his neck.

They asked him who he is? He answered that he is a medical doctor & a staff of @MSF . Mind you, the car had the flag & logo of @MSF  and the driver & my friend had dressed in @MSF  jackets & had badges on them.

They ordered him to show his ID. He took out an @MSF  ID on which it was clearly written that he is a medical doctor & staff of @MSF . Then, the soldiers started mocking & demonising him, accusing @MSF  of being a TPLF agent.

He tried to explain to them that he & @MSF  have no political affiliation except helping & providing health services to the helpless civilians in the area and that the organisation is neutral to the ongoing war and does not take sides.

Unfortunately, all they could respond was that @MSF  is “a TPLF spy, a TPLF supporter, a TPLF mercenary, a TPLF sympathizer, a TPLF agent, a pro-TPLF, and anti-Ethiopia.” As time went by, he lost hope & felt death was imminent.

With every minute, his heart was beating faster. But, he calmed himself down, controlled his emotions, and kept speaking softly to the gun-pointing soldiers in the middle of absolute darkness, in the streets of Abi Adi town.

Their entire focus was on the medical doctor not on the driver. The amount of demonisation that was coming out of their mouth was beyond count & their level of hate to @MSF  was immense. That was why they were not satisfied with the logo, flag, badge, jacket, ID of @MSF 

The doctor was between two deaths. On one hand, he was thinking of the mother who was already on the verge of death & badly needed his service at the hospital. On the other hand, he himself was at imminent death.

With all this much burden on his shoulder, he had to control & rectify his emotions and try to speak with much discipline & humility which he did. After the soldiers told him that being a staff of @MSF  would not be able to save him from the imminent execution, he begged them for his life and he pleaded with them to go with him to the hospital and see the mother who was dying if they could not believe him anymore.

They told him they would not care about the dying woman & that his relation to @MSF  was a sufficient reason for them to kill him.

Luckily he’d documents with him that proved he had worked at multiple hospitals across other regions in Ethiopia & that he had been serving not only #Tigrayans but also people across other parts of Ethiopia. And begged them that he knows nothing other than serving people.

After a horrific ordeal that lasted for over 45 minutes, some of the soldiers started showing some degree of sympathy for him, not b/se he was a staff of @MSF  but b/se of the documents that proved his service across other parts of Ethiopia.

Source: The Guardian – 25 June 2021

Three aid workers found dead in Tigray, says Médecins Sans Frontières

MSF says it condemns attack on colleagues ‘in strongest possible terms’ after bodies found near car
Convoy of trucks
A convoy of MSF trucks carrying medical supplies in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, in May. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP
Global development is supported by
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

About this content

Three aid workers who had been working in Ethiopia’s Tigray region have been found dead, their organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières, announced on Friday.

MSF said it had lost contact with the workers while they were travelling on Thursday afternoon. Their bodies were found near their empty car this morning.

The workers were Maria Hernández, an emergency coordinator from Spain, and Yohannes Halefom Reda, an assistant coordinator, and Tedros Gebremariam Gebremichael, an MSF driver, both Ethiopian.

“No words can truly convey all our sadness, shock and outrage against this horrific attack,” the MSF said. “Nor can words soothe the loss and suffering of their families and loved ones, to whom we relay our deepest sympathy and condolences.

“We condemn this attack on our colleagues in the strongest possible terms and will be relentless in understanding what happened. Maria, Yohannes and Tedros were in Tigray providing assistance to people and it is unthinkable that they paid for this work with their lives,” MSF said in a statement.

MSF has been active in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the focus of a government offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front since last year. In March the organisation said that in the aftermath of an ambush on the army, its workers had witnessed soldiers carrying out extrajudicial killings, while their own driver was beaten with the butt of a gun and also threatened with death.

Reports of rights abuses have been widespread in Tigray and the warring parties have been accused by human rights groups of occupying schools and attacking hospitals.

Earlier this month the Ethiopian aid worker Negasi Kidane was killed by a stray bullet, according to his employer, the Italian charity International Committee for the Development of Peoples. In May, another Ethiopian working with USAid was also killed.

“Every day humanitarian workers risk their own lives to help those in dire need because of man-made conflicts and natural disasters,” USAid’s chief, Samantha Power, said in a statement.

“We hope that his courage and sacrifice, and that of other humanitarian workers intimidated, threatened, harmed, or killed in the Tigray region will not be in vain, as we work with the people of Ethiopia toward a peaceful resolution and a brighter future.”

At least 11 aid workers have been killed in Tigray since November 2020.


Source: New York Times

Credit…Leszek Szymanski/EPA, via Shutterstock
Dec. 20, 2021

NAIROBI, Kenya — After Ethiopia’s embattled prime minister pulled off a stunning military victory earlier this month, reversing a rebel march on the capital that threatened to overthrow him, he credited the bravery of his troops.

“Ethiopia is proud of your unbelievable heroism,” the jubilant leader, Abiy Ahmed, told his troops on the battlefront at Kombolcha, on Dec. 6. “You were our confidence when we said Ethiopia would never lose.”

In reality, the reason for the reversal in Mr. Abiy’s fortunes was hovering in the skies above: a fleet of combat drones, recently acquired from allies in the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere who are determined to keep him in power.

Over the past four months, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Iran have quietly supplied Mr. Abiy with some of the latest armed drones, even as the United States and African governments were urging a cease-fire and peace talks, according to two Western diplomats who have been briefed on the crisis and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The motives of Mr. Abiy’s suppliers varied: to make money; to gain an edge in a strategic region; and to back a winner in the spiraling conflict that has engulfed Africa’s second most populous nation. But the impact of the drones was striking — pummeling Tigrayan rebels and their supply convoys as they pushed down a major highway toward the capital, Addis Ababa. The rebels have since retreated roughly 270 miles by road to the north, erasing months of battlefield gains.

On Sunday, the Tigray leader, Debretsion Gebremichael, told the United Nations he had ordered an immediate withdrawal of all forces to the borders of Tigray, citing, among other factors, “the drones provided by foreign powers.”

Credit…Maxar Technologies, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In a letter to Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Mr. Debretsion called for a cease-fire followed by peace talks. “We trust that our bold act of withdrawal will be a decisive opening for peace,” he wrote.

On Monday, his spokesman said that a wave of Ethiopian air strikes inside Tigray had killed 18 civilians and wounded 11.

An Ethiopian government spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the use of drones.

The demonstration of drone power confirmed that Ethiopia’s year-old conflict, largely a regional affair until now, has been internationalized. And it adds the country to a growing list of conventional conflicts, like those in Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, where combat drones have become a significant factor in the fight, or even the dominant one.

“Increasingly, unmanned systems are becoming a game changer,” said Peter W. Singer, an expert on drone warfare at New America, a research group in Washington. “It’s not just about the raw capability of the drones themselves — it’s the multiplying effect they have on nearly every other human and system on the battlefield.”

For Mr. Abiy, the drones arrived just in time.

He launched a military campaign in Tigray in November 2020, a year after he won the Nobel Peace Prize, in coordination with the leader of neighboring Eritrea. But his forces suffered a humiliating defeat last summer when Tigrayan rebels forced them from Tigray, then started to push south. By late November the Tigrayans were approaching the city of Debre Birhan, about 85 miles north of Addis Ababa.

Credit…Amanuel Sileshi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But they could go no further. Swarms of drones appeared overhead, striking soldiers and supply convoys, Gen. Tsadkan Gebretensae, a leading Tigrayan commander, said in an interview with The New York Times.

“At one time, there were 10 drones in the sky,” he said. “You can imagine the effect. We were an easy target.”

Mr. Abiy built his drone arsenal by tapping the sympathy of foreign autocrats and a booming segment of the global arms trade.

Even as he talked about negotiations, Mr. Abiy was turning to other countries to bolster his military. Nearly every day, cargo flights arrived from a military base in the United Arab Emirates, one of Mr. Abiy’s closest allies.

The Emiratis had trained Mr. Abiy’s Republican Guard and provided crucial military support at the start of the war, running drone strikes that took out Tigrayan artillery and weapons depots, a Western official and a former Ethiopian official said.

Credit…Aly Song/Reuters

The Emirati strikes stopped in January after President Biden came to power, under pressure from Washington. But they have resumed in recent months, largely in the form of the latest Chinese-made drones, the officials said.

The Emirati drone strikes, under the direction of the national security adviser Tahnoun bin Zayed al-Nahyan, appear to be a snub to American diplomatic efforts to end the war. American officials say they are trying to draw the U.A.E. into peace efforts as an ally, but that cooperation is limited.

In a meeting with the United States regional envoy, Jeffrey Feltman, earlier this week, Sheikh al-Nahyan denied that his country was shipping weapons to Ethiopia, an American official with knowledge of the meeting said.

By contrast, Mr. Abiy’s dealings with Turkey have been relatively open.

He signed a military pact in August with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose Bayraktar TB2 drone played a decisive role in Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. It is manufactured by a company run by Mr. Erdogan’s son-in-law.

Turkish drones are attractive to many African countries seeking battle-tested, relatively cheap hardware with few strings attached. “Even in Africa, everywhere I go, they want U.A.V.s,” Mr. Erdogan boasted in October after a tour of Nigeria, Togo and Angola. (Drones are also known as unmanned aerial vehicles).

After Bayraktar drones appeared in Ethiopia recently, Turkish officials insisted the drone sale was a purely commercial activity —  defense and aviation exports to Ethiopia rose to $95 million this year, up from $235,000 in 2020, the Turkish Exporters Assembly reported.

Understand the Conflict in Ethiopia

Card 1 of 5

A year of war. On Nov. 4, 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed began a military campaign in the country’s northern Tigray region, hoping to vanquish the Tigray People’s Liberation Front — his most troublesome political foe.

But in recent days, Turkish officials have privately claimed to have frozen exports to Ethiopia, apparently in response to international pressure over a war that has become a byword for atrocities and starvation.

At least 400,000 people are living in famine-like conditions, according to the United Nations.

Credit…Amanuel Sileshi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In response to reports of civilians killed, detained or expelled, the United Nations Human Rights Council agreed on Friday to set up a commission to investigate abuses and identify perpetrators — the latest of many international initiatives that, until now, have failed to stop the suffering.

Mr. Abiy, meanwhile, is focused on his military campaign and its foreign sponsors. On Friday he landed in Istanbul for the Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit — a two-day gathering of leaders from 39 African countries that, analysts say, is also a forum for Turkish arms sales.

His embrace of Iranian drones, although much less powerful than the Chinese or Turkish-made models, has further strained his relations with Washington.

Since August a number of cargo flights have arrived in Ethiopia operated by Iranian airlines that the U.S. has accused of being fronts for the Quds Force, the expeditionary wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Flight-tracking blogs have made note of the shipments as well.

American officials in Addis Ababa have made private representations to Mr. Abiy about the Iranian flights, urging him to cut them off, a United States official said.

Mr. Abiy’s drone army remains modest: By several estimates, he has no more than a few dozen combat drones at his disposal, and they can be expensive to run, repair and supply with weapons. But they remain a potent threat to the Tigrayan forces, which themselves have no access to drones.

Mr. Singer, the drone expert, said the experimentation with drone warfare in Ethiopia and Libya has parallels with the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, when outside powers used the fight to test new military technologies and to gauge international reaction to determine what they could get away with. “It’s a combination of war and battle lab,” he said.

But, he added, technology is no guarantee of victory. “The U.S. had drones in Afghanistan, yet the Taliban managed to hold out for 20 years,” he said. “Human will is what determines the outcome of war.

Kerkasha Project, Eritrea – Alpha Exploration Ltd

Tuesday, 14 December 2021 09:31 Written by


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By Habte Hagos

Kerkasha Project, Eritrea – Alpha Exploration Ltd

On 9 December 2021, Alpha Exploration Ltd based in Alberta, Canada and listed in the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSXV: ALEX) announced the results of a recent “diamond and reverse circulation drilling at the Anagulu gold-copper porphyry prospect part of the Company’s 100% owned Kerkasha Project, Eritrea[1]”.

In November, porphyry expert Dr. Richard Sillitoe spent six days studying the drill core and chips from Anagulu with Alpha geologists in Eritrea and confirmed that “Anagulu is undoubtedly a porphyry gold-copper system centered on a distinctive, dyke-like porphyry intrusion”.

Michael Hopley, Alpha President and CEO said, “We are very happy with these latest drill results because they extend the zone of known gold and copper mineralization with gold equivalent values of over about 1 g/t to approximately 400-meter strike length; this is very encouraging given that the rock-chip and soil-sample gold and copper results at Anagulu suggest it is at least 2,000 meters long. In addition, with Richard Sillitoe’s insights into the style and controls of mineralization at Anagulu, Alpha staff will have the knowledge to continue exploration to expand the size of Anagulu.”

Eritrea Focus is deeply concerned by yet another Canadian mining company’s involvement with the hermetic and pariah regime in Asmara that has been repeatedly accused by the UN of committing crimes against humanity on its own people over three decades. The regime is currently involved in a “war pact” with the Ethiopian government and executing the largest war in the world, causing the death of hundreds of thousands of people, displacement of millions of people, endemic and systematic rape of women and girls, and other heinous crimes that will leave a lasting stain on our country.

In the light of these crimes, Eritrea Focus has consistently advocated for a total divestment from Eritrea and calls upon Alpha Exploration Ltd to do so immediately. To this end, Eritrea Focus has written to Mr Hopley asking for an urgent meeting to demand the Company divests from our country forthwith. The Eritrean people have made it abundantly clear over the years that they wish their natural resources to remain unexploited until such time a responsible and accountable government is installed in Eritrea.

We appeal to all human rights groups and individuals to help us in this endeavour by emailing or calling Mr Hopley; E:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Telephone: +44 207129 1148.

Thank you.


[1] Alpha Exploration Reports 95 M of 1.30 G/t Aueq from Anagulu Porphyry Gold-Copper Prospect, Kerkasha Project, Eritrea (yahoo.com)


Source: US State Department

The following is the text of a joint statement signed by the governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Begin Text:

We, Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States, are profoundly concerned by recent reports of the Ethiopian government’s detention of large numbers of Ethiopian citizens on the basis of their ethnicity and without charge. The Ethiopian government’s announcement of a State of Emergency on November 2 is no justification for the mass detention of individuals from certain ethnic groups.

Reports by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and Amnesty International describe widespread arrests of ethnic Tigrayans, including Orthodox priests, older people, and mothers with children. Individuals are being arrested and detained without charges or a court hearing and are reportedly being held in inhumane conditions. Many of these acts likely constitute violations of international law and must cease immediately. We urge unhindered and timely access by international monitors.

We reiterate our grave concern at the human rights abuses and violations, such as those involving conflict related sexual violence, identified in the joint investigation report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the EHRC, and at ongoing reports of atrocities being committed by all parties to the conflicts. All parties must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, including those regarding the protection of civilians and humanitarian and medical personnel.

It is clear that there is no military solution to this conflict, and we denounce any and all violence against civilians, past, present and future. All armed actors should cease fighting and the Eritrean Defense Forces should withdraw from Ethiopia.  We reiterate our call for all parties to seize the opportunity to negotiate a sustainable ceasefire without preconditions. Fundamentally, Ethiopians must build an inclusive political process and national consensus through political and legal means, and all those responsible for violations and abuses of human rights must be held accountable.

End Text


We note the statement on 12 November by the US Treasury that they have sanctioned four entities and two individuals. Sanctions are most effective when countries act together. International cooperation is at the heart of UK sanctions policy, and the UK will continue to work with the US and other international partners to tackle shared global challenges.

Brendan O’Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Inclusive Society), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution), Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether her Department is coordinating with the US, and other key strategic partners, on the use of Magnitsky sanctions against Eritrean individuals and organisations responsible for a destabilising presence in the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia.

Photo of Vicky FordVicky Ford Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

We are deeply concerned by Eritrean involvement in the conflict in Tigray. The UK continues to consider the full range of policy tools at our disposal to protect human rights and deter violations of international humanitarian law. It is longstanding practice not to speculate on future sanctions designations as to do so could reduce the impact of the designations.

We note the statement on 12 November by the US Treasury that they have sanctioned four entities and two individuals. Sanctions are most effective when countries act together. International cooperation is at the heart of UK sanctions policy, and the UK will continue to work with the US and other international partners to tackle shared global challenges.


Lord David Alton, a Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Eritrea in the UK Parliament, asked the British government about the plight of Tigrayans, thousands of whom have been arrested and held in Addis Ababa and other parts of Ethiopia.

Below is the response, which – in line with recent British statements – is a vague generalisation. It is worth noting that there has been no ministerial contact with the Ethiopian government since 18 November, despite the pace of developments in recent weeks.


Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL4248):

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimate, if any, they have made of the number of Tigrayans who have been detained in Addis Ababa; and what assessment they have made of reports of landlords checking their tenants’ identification cards, including UN staff other relief agencies. (HL4248)

Tabled on: 22 November 2021

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park:

We are extremely concerned by reports of widespread human rights violations and abuses in Ethiopia committed by all sides to the conflict. The Minister for Africa spoke with the Ethiopian State Minister Redwan on 18 November and expressed her concern over ethnic profiling and mass arrests and detentions across the country and stressed the need for all parties to the conflict to engage in meaningful talks. The British Ambassador to Ethiopia also raised our concerns about ongoing detentions with President Sahle-Work on 12 November.

The Foreign Secretary, our Ambassador in Addis Ababa and the Minister for Africa continue to raise human rights issues in our discussions with the Ethiopian Government and more broadly we have reminded all warring parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Our priority is to ensure that Ethiopians, irrespective of ethnicity, religion and political affiliation, receive life-saving aid and that humanitarian access to areas affected by conflict and insecurity is restored.

Date and time of answer: 01 Dec 2021 at 12:03.