Statement in Response to Eritrea’s Consistent Denial of its Presence in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region and Illegal Occupation of parts of Tigray

March 09, 2024

On February 28th, 2024, the Media and Communication Office of the Embassy of the State of Eritrea to UK & Ireland London issued a statement once again denying their presence in Tigray and their illegal occupation of Tigrayan territories, falsely claiming that “Eritrean Troops are on Sovereign Eritrean Territories.

‘In any case and as stressed above, false accusations of the presence of Eritrean troops in Tigray Region in fact refer to, and are literally a euphemism for, the sovereign Eritrean territories that the TPLF had illegally occupied for two decades with impunity. Eritrean troops are otherwise inside Eritrean sovereign territories with no presence in Ethiopian sovereign land.’

We condemn and refute these claims from the Eritrean government in the strongest possible terms.

Firstly, it is verified the Eritrean Defence Forces (EDF) continue to occupy several areas across different zones in Tigray. In the Eastern Zone, they occupy the districts of Zalambessa town, Gulemekada (sub-districts: Marta, Addis Tesfa, Addis Alem, Shewit Lemlem, and Sebeya) and Irob (sub-districts: Endalgeda, Weratle, Agerelekoma and Alitena). In the Northwestern Zone, they occupy parts of several districts, including Tahtay Adebayo (sub-districts: Rural Badme, Badme Town, Gemhalo, Ademeyti, Adi Tsetser, Lemlem, Shembelina, Mentebteb, Adi Aser), Maekel Adebayo (sub-districts: Adi Awala, Kushet Ayay, May Abay), Seyemti Adiyabo (Adiyabiya Digum sub-district). Lastly, in the Central Zone, they occupy parts of two districts: Egela (sub-districts: Hoya Medeb (specific villages: Kolo Birdo, Sebeo Belesa, Adi Kutu, Ouna Shehaq), Erdi Genanu; Kushet Egri Sebeya, Ziban Sesewe) and Rama (Mereb sub-district) fully or partially.

EDF’s extensive presence in Tigray, as detailed above, not only represents a continued violation of Tigray’s territorial integrity and Ethiopia’s sovereignty but has been a source of constant terror for Tigrayans in these areas, as Eritrea has unleashed its genocidal campaign. EDF continues to commit atrocity crimes in occupied territories 16 months after the signing of the Pretoria agreement in November 2022. Among the crimes against humanity and acts of genocide committed are Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and looting of public properties and livestock.

Though Eritrea's current use of force to annex land and largely erase or subjugate Tigrayans is unjustifiable, its occupation of Tigray also goes well beyond the territories delimited by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) in 2002. The territories the EDF currently occupies reflect Eritrea's territory claims that were initially submitted to the EEBC and subsequently rejected. EDF currently brutally occupies more than double the land the Commission delimited. Therefore, despite Eritrea’s continuous deceit and deflection by referring to the Border Commission decision, it is verifiably clear that Eritrea is violating the territorial integrity of Tigray and Ethiopian sovereignty. The only useful takeaway from the statement by the Embassy of Eritrea in the UK is its unintended admission of Eritrea’s occupation of Tigray and declarations to forcefully annex the areas it occupies. The Ethiopian Government must comply with the promises made in the Pretoria agreement and remove all non-Ethiopian federal forces including the EDF from Tigray.

Secondly, the decades-long violence experienced by border communities and current brutality and violence that has characterized Eritrea and Ethiopia’s genocidal campaign in Tigray underscores the need for a comprehensive resolution that respects historical boundaries and promotes coexistence among communities.  

The Algiers Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed by both Ethiopia and Eritrea after the 1998-2000 war has been repeatedly violated and invalidated by Eritrea, most blatantly when Eritrea invaded and occupied most of Tigray in the November 2020 at the start of the war on Tigray. Eritrea’s violation of the Algiers Agreement and the failure of both Eritrea and Ethiopia to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict and disagreement over the illegal EEBC decision in the years since its promulgation maintained tensions and was a source of gross human rights violations against border communities for more than two decades, including hundreds of enforced disappearances by Eritrean forces. The irresponsible decision of the EEBC that did not consult a single indigenous person on the border and has endangered millions lacks legitimacy. To prevent further violence as a result of the illegal decisions made by EEBC, borders must be demarcated on the ground with the inclusion of the main stakeholders, the people that live on the border, through peaceful and inclusive processes, respecting the rights of all affected communities and international law.

The genocidal war on Tigray committed by the allied forces of Ethiopia and Eritrea has led to the killing of more than 800,000 civilians in Tigray, the total destruction of the region, and the ongoing catastrophic civilian suffering across the region and atrocity crimes in the areas that are currently occupied by Eritrean and Amhara forces. Hence, it is of paramount importance that there is a new solution that must take into account the broader context of war on Tigray and ensure that all future agreements and decisions are made and upheld within the framework of international law and justice.

The current situation in Tigray demands immediate international intervention to address violations of human rights and facilitate meaningful dialogue toward sustainable peace. Eritrea must leave Tigray and cease its aggression on innocent civilians that have suffered war crimes and crimes against humanity in a genocidal campaign for more than 3 years. Immediate action is required to address these egregious crimes against humanity and restore peace to affected communities.


Irob Anina Civil Society (IACS)

Endorsed by:

  1. Alliance of Civil Society Organizations of Tigray (ACSOT), Network of 72 CSOs in Tigray
  2. Dekina Foundation
  3. Ethiopian Canadians for Peace
  4. Health Professionals Network for Tigray (HPN4Tigray)
  5. Omna Tigray
  6. Security and Justice for Tigrayans (SJT)
  7. Solidarity of Tigrayans for Independence and Liberty (STIL)
  8. The Duty Legacy (TDL)
  9. Tigray Disaster Relief Fund (TDRF)
  10. Tigray Human Rights Forum
  11. Tigray Youth Network (TYN)
  12. Tigrayan Advocacy and Development Association (TADA) UK
  13. Union of Tigrayans in Europe (UTE)