NAIROBI, Kenya — Eritrea is mobilizing its armed forces and appears to be sending them to Ethiopia to help its neighbor’s war in the Tigray region, according to activists and international authorities.
Britain and Canada have issued travel advisories asking their citizens in Eritrea to be vigilant.
Eritrean rights activist Meron Estefanos told The Associated Press that her cousin had been called up “and he’s fighting somewhere in Ethiopia and we don’t know if he’s alive or not.”
“It’s just a sad war, as if our region hasn’t seen enough blood in generations,” said Meron, director of the Eritrean Refugee Rights Initiative.
Eyewitnesses in Eritrea said people, including students and government officials, were gathered across the country.
Eritrea, one of the most isolated countries in the world, imposes military service on all its citizens between the ages of 18 and 40. Rights groups say the practice, which lasts indefinitely in most cases, is driving thousands of young Eritreans into exile. Eritreans make up many of the migrants trying to cross to Europe, often dangerously by sea.
It was not possible to obtain comments from the Eritrean authorities.
Eritrean forces fought alongside Ethiopian federal troops in the war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, which shares a border with Eritrea, when that conflict erupted in November 2020. Eritrean forces have been involved in some of the worst atrocities committed during the war — charges they deny.
Authorities in Tigray now say the Eritreans are re-entering the war which resumed in August after a lull in fighting earlier this year.
The conflict is estimated to have killed tens of thousands and left millions without basic services for more than a year.
Inside Tigray, millions of people are still largely cut off from the world. Communications and banking services are down and their restoration has been a key request in the mediation efforts.