This place is considered to be one of the greatest attractions of Ethiopia. Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been captured by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front forces fighting the Ethiopian government, Reuters reported, citing witness accounts. He also writes about the escape of residents.
Lalibela is famous for its rock-cut churches, and is also a sacred site of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. It is located in the administrative region of Amhara in the north of Ethiopia and is adjacent to Tirgraj. In recent weeks, fighting in the region has spread to neighboring Amhara and another Afar region, forcing some 250,000 people to flee.
The Reuters Agency notes that it has not yet been able to confirm information about the city’s occupation by dissident troops in independent sources or contact a government spokesman.
Different language and uniforms
Seyfu, a Lalibel resident who spoke to Reuter on the phone, said he saw hundreds of armed men speaking the language of the ethnic Tigra on Thursday. He also said that they wore uniforms different to those worn by government officials.
A Reuters interlocutor reported that forces from the Amhara region, which are an ally of Ethiopia’s central government, fled Wednesday night along with local officials. “We asked them to stay, or at least give us their guns, but they refused and ran away, taking with them five ambulances, a few trucks and cars,” he said.
According to an interlocutor of the AFP agency, rebels of the Tigraj People’s Liberation Front entered Lalibela on Thursday afternoon without a fight, and there were no government security forces in the area.
Ongoing conflict and threats
The conflict in Tigray that has been going on for over eight months between the government forces and the dissident authorities of the region from the People’s Liberation Front of Tigray is threatening with a catastrophic famine, among other things because the regular army and its allies have destroyed crops there, robbed food supplies and is trying to prevent work on the land.
In addition, the military destroyed two bridges in early July that are critical to delivering aid to Tigray.
A representative of the US federal aid agency USAID said last week that the Ethiopian government’s assurances that there is no hunger in the region and that access to it is impeded by humanitarian convoys by local rebels “are not 100% genuine” and the greatest difficulties in delivering humanitarian aid to Tigray it is creating the government.
According to the UNICEF mission, more than 100,000 children in Tigray are at risk of dying from malnutrition in the next 12 months.
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