Home Trends Where is Ethiopia’s Tigray war headed? | The Stream

Where is Ethiopia’s Tigray war headed? | The Stream

by smart

[Music] hi i’m femi okay and you’re in the stream on today’s program we get to spend time with some of al jazeera’s best correspondents for a look behind the scenes of stories that they’ve been reporting on we speak to john holman in mexico he’s been reporting for years on cartel violence in a recent film he explores what happens to civilians caught in the crossfire in germany once in a generation floods have caused death and destruction seth vassen is standing by to tell us more about that story i’ll also be looking out for your comments and questions in our youtube chat so you can share your thoughts right here we start with catherine soy who’s been reporting in ethiopia catherine recently gained exclusive access to the tigray amara region amhara special forces and ethiopian federal police at a checkpoint in maikadara passing through requires identification papers we were on a rare regional government-guided trip but even filming the forces and their militia called fano was difficult the town claimed by both the amhara anti-gray and ethnic communities was under tigre’s administration before the war started in november it’s where one of the worst atrocities happened hundreds of people were killed the communities accuse each other’s fighters of committing it catherine soy joins us now from addis ababa catherine it’s so good to see you when you were reporting from the tigray amara region on the border there just getting access is tricky that’s challenging tell us more about that yes it’s very frustrating very tricky indeed as you mentioned we got the success from the amhara regional government and you may wonder why because we’re talking about western tigra these areas we’re talking about are marked in western tigray but in the eight months of the war amhara forces have occupied these territories they say that these areas ha belonged to them historically and it’s only until um the 90s when the tplf that the secret people’s liberation front uh took power that they um annexed this land to tigre so the amaras say it is their land but then the tigranians who are now the tigre forces were now pushing south and west say they want to reclaim back uh those lands uh they say that the amhara forces took advantage of this conflict to um forcefully take over uh those territories so it is a huge land dispute and now because it’s under the administration of amhara we sought authorization from the amhara leadership but even with the authorization we had to go with binders with guns and it was also very difficult even with those binders to film at checkpoints those pictures that you’ve uh you showed there are actually pictures that reform secretly because they wouldn’t let us film any of their forces uh they have a militia called whanau as well they wouldn’t let us film that and it was also very difficult uh to get a sense of you know whether this the people we were talking to the villagers they were the greens there as well it was very difficult for us to tell whether you know they were giving us information independently and without fear because we’re surrounded by all these minders when we were there there is a town called humera it’s one of the contested ones and before the conflict humara and maikadra which you showed there with the with the with the mass graves um tigrans and amhara people lived side by side before this war so a lot of tigrans have fled there’s some that have been left so when we were there um the regional the local administrators organized this protests by these degrees in support of amharas it was very hard for us uh to you know really get maybe it was even theater catherine it was just just for the cameras let me ask you let me ask you this because you did a very important interview with the amara’s deputy president and trying to keep up with the politics and the history in ethiopia is difficult it’s challenging but in uh less than a minute you nailed it in this report let me show everybody let’s have a look let’s have a listen the region’s vice president shows us a 1985 map that places much of the disputed territories in amhara region the borderlines have however since been redrawn he tells us when the tigrai people’s liberation front or tplf took power it annexed the land to decry we have never ever accepted the amara people and regional government has never endorsed it we have never been consulted so whenever you say historical disputes it takes you some years behind and one time it was there another time it was here that’s what you call dispute it has never been so it couldn’t be just a dispute it was rather taken unilaterally by the tpa left it was decided catherine i’m going to put some questions to you from our stream audience this is a war of conflicting ideologies says this tweet unitary by pm abbey and semi-autonomous ethnic federalism by the tplf the pm sees ethnic federalism as a root of all ethiopian evils while tplf sees otherwise this is this viewers idea this is their opinion but how can the size reconcile is the question catherine well for me i think at this point it’s very difficult to see an immediate reconciliation all sides have taken such hard-line positions they’re all accusing each other of ethnic cleansing and things like that it seems very much like a supremacy battle um tigre tigre you know leadership accusing the amhara administration of you know just trying to expand their territory to expand beyond their territory then we have this land dispute this we’re talking about very rich agricultural lands and in this whole conflict you know it’s not just amharas and tigrans we are also seeing now other regions that were not previously involved uh in the tigray conflict now uh getting involved we are seeing you know regions like uromer like somali region all saying they’re sending their own forces sending their own militia to come and you know join this war and fight alongside government troops and omaha forces to fight their tigran defense forces so when you’re seeing this kind of thing it worries a lot of people because it’s taking a very dangerous stand a very dangerous ethnic time if i may say all right catherine i’m going to ask you two questions very very briefly and very quickly one comes via a video comment and another one comes from youtube let’s start with a video comment mobilizing more forces consisting of malicious and regional forces to enter into the conflict represents new forms of escalation and intractability implicating the entire country it further crystallizes the fact that no durable solution is likely to come from either of the warring parties who continue mobilizing towards war and violence so for gerrera uh is there a durable solution from noah on youtube watching right now do you think there will be a peaceful resolution between amara and tigre what insight did you gain from your reporting very quickly catherine well again when i spoke to the deputy president um of you know amhara region again he his position was very hard-lined he said that yes we need a durable solution we need a peaceful resolution it’s the planting season now people need to be in their farms they can’t be evicted and you know kicked out of their homes and things like that but then on the other hand he says that well we cannot watch as our people are being killed as our people have been evicted he had called upon you know people in the villages in those front line areas saying you know the farmers the people in the villages come out defend yourselves and i asked him are you telling them to arm themselves civilians ethiopians in these villages and he said yes because what can they do if you go to the other side tigray um the leadership there is saying the same things this plea the you know the leadership people are being armed young people are being recruited and trained and armed so at this point it’s very difficult to see um a solution a peaceful solution even if they’re all saying they want peace this is not about the grains this is not about amhara people this is about the leadership it’s about the politics thank you catherine soy for sharing your reporting with us and taking us behind the scenes of the story as well we move now to western europe where flooding has left close to 200 dead and almost 1 000 people unaccounted for here’s stop for his step farson reporting earlier in the week from a start in germany it was rush hour when the water quickly inundated highway number 265 near afstad catching unexpected drivers and passengers by surprise soldiers and rescue workers tried to reach trapped cars finding out if everyone made it out in time we hope that they made it out of their cars but we are not sure and we can guarantee that there are perhaps people in the cars we could not check all cars and if you see the quality of the water also the check with divers is of no use looking at how challenging it is to free this one highway it becomes clear that recovery will take time hassan is joining us from bonn hello there steph this story was literally close to home we often say oh this is close to home but it it really was can you explain why it was very close to home because this is happening just an hour or two hours away from where i was born this is like my my home area i went on holidays when i was a child to these locations here in the western part of germany and it was also happening in the south of the netherlands where my parents are living and that’s actually why i jumped in the car so quickly when i heard about these floods because i got messages from my parents that their village was underwater and that really struck me because i thought why is this happening now and i knew of course about the torrential rains but i also never expected these kinds of floods and my first idea was climate change climate change is now getting a visible phase here in europe so i’m going to show a couple of pictures because if you look in the background if you look behind steph and her wellingtons um you you see so much there is chaos in the background i’m just going to show a couple more pictures here this is you getting ready to do a stand up a piece to camera but look this what is this upside down this vehicle is upside down you can see the destruction and again here a vehicle being flipped when you first got onto the scene what was your reaction because you have covered floods in other parts of the world particularly in asia so you’re not um a newcomer to what flood destruction can do no the the first thing i thought it looks like the tsunami the aftermath of the tsunami in indonesia in 2004 which i covered extensively and i never really expected to find these kinds of images of course so close to home in europe and people there also were completely taken by surprise they knew only disasters from television from asia from africa but now you know this kind of destruction they’ve never seen before as you say cars were all over the place they were swimming from other village villages there were trees like everywhere they were just taken out like they were they were weighing nothing and the rivers uh overflowed the bridges broken lots of houses damaged and one story that really really uh struck me very deeply was this uh story where we first went and it was a house for disabled people and we heard 12 people died there and we really wanted to find this place and it was nearly impossible we couldn’t find it because it was mud everywhere roads were blocked and then finally when we were shooting the whole day at the end of the day we found this building and we found the story there of the neighbors who saw what happened that the water came up into the first floor and there was no evacuation because the the the authorities were completely overwhelmed so they had been evacuating some part of the town but that particular part wasn’t evacuated so people were still stuck there and they were in the first on the first floor on the ground floor and they couldn’t escape they were just simply stuck and they they drowned sadly steve i’m going to show an image from your instagram have a look here on my laptop steph’s obviously seen this but there’s something here that i wanted to show you divers caught by surprise the drivers on a highway caught by surprise it’s a surprise element that i want to build on this is jeff decosta’s step have a listen to his story also close to home for him and his parents and then just comment off the back of it if you would here’s jeff as a flood scientist i’m really used to looking at data regarding floods impacting rivers and societies but just last week i found myself on the other side of the data when my parents called me in distress telling me that their home was being flooded and just seeing how emotionally draining physically and financially traumatizing it is to have their home inundated was just such a stark reminder of how devastating floods can be on people and communities of course if we look at the bigger picture in europe they were relatively lucky in belgium and in germany especially hundreds of people have died and communities have been erased from the map due to a lack of adequate and timely warning as a researcher i believe that as a society we have failed people and a good forecast is useless if decision makers do not take action upon receiving warnings yes exactly it’s not only the warning system that failed i spoke about the evacuations earlier but a lot of people were also wondering what have we been doing against climate change against global warming of course in the western part of germany when i was driving around there and i was driving between the countries i went back and forth to the netherlands as well and you see the industrial areas you’re passing the coal uh power plants that are still operating there so a lot of people have also been asking questions you know what is the impact of all this industry here in this part of the world on this changing climate and i think this is really where this discussion will will go to i think this will will really have a long-term impact on the discussion on climate change in the netherlands in germany in belgium in the western part of europe step i am just going to wrap up our segment together i know that volunteers are making a difference on the ground what is the latest that you’re seeing that you’ve been reporting for us on al jazeera well it was overwhelming today i spent the whole day in a place batmonster eiffel which was one of the worst hit and angela merkel was actually there and people there were so busy working just the hundreds of volunteers they were lining up they made these human chains they had buckets they were passing it on one by one with their bare hands and while angela merkel was in the back talking to officials they kept working and they were actually angry and irritated they started talking to me like why is she still there we need to work and she’s actually blocking everything yeah she’s in the way move aside angela merkel we have work to do i know that was exactly what they said thank you so much for sharing your reporting with us we will continue to watch it on al jazeera finally we head to the mexican state of machoacan here is a clip from the al jazeera film mexico’s kill zone all right but the reality is that the four letters as they’re called here are brutal ruthless they’ve killed police and disappeared civilians across the country and now they’re invading michoacan we’re here to ask what that means for an already traumatized population and who is going to stop them we’re heading into a war zone so john holman joins us now from mexico city john i have to ask you how did you get an interview with jalisco new generation cartel leader how how is that even possible yeah i was just i’m just watching it there and it’s it’s it’s a little bit of an out of body experience no do you see it on the screen it’s one thing and it was quite another one we were actually there um i think we were trying at the time to get to a town called aguilia and that town is it’s it’s more extreme than anything else i’ve seen in mexico and i’ve been here like 14 years now it’s basically under siege between two different criminal um groups we’ve got that group the jalisco new generation cartel on one side and then it’s being sort of blocked off on the other side by another group called cartel’s meadows so to get there we had to drive down this dirt road over the mountains and that was a road that this cartel jalisco new generation cartel controlled and so um we were going along we passed um this village where they had their sort of their base of operations um we’d already asked them for permission to go down that road and they they said yes we sort of knew we were okay to do that as long as that message got passed down to the guys at the checkpoint and then i was going with a really good producer uh miguel angel vega and a really good camera person because double worst of course like i’m just one part of this team though and more than anything they managed to persuade the guys at the checkpoint we’d love to do an interview with you we want to hear what you’ve got to say at least and eventually you said okay you need to go to this um clandestine airstrip that we’ve got in the middle of the woods like 10 minutes away and i think um at that point i think the other two were sort of like yes okay [Music] this is how good correspondents die oh okay all right so in your film um there were moments where as a viewer i was afraid because you looked afraid one of them was when you were in an abandoned village i’m just going to play that clip for our stream audience let’s have a look you can see on the wall there it’s got the initials of cartel jalisco new generation mr so [Music] [Music] it’s pretty uh unnerving actually in a completely deserted village in this house there’s no one else around so far hey yeah that was um that was just as frightening actually at the time as it looks on the video i thought we the video went up on youtube obviously and i saw one um person commenting saying oh typical journalist hype and i just want to assure that person uh that i was just as worried as i appeared on the screen we all ran back to the car obviously and um because double words of the camera person was the only person who did he didn’t want to leave the house even after we heard gunshots around and apparently people told us afterwards that’s what the cartels do basically just fire in the air to um to let you know that that’s it you’re not gonna go nosing around one of their i think that was one of their abandoned safe houses basically so i suppose i thought as well after that um in the moment obviously we were just filming what we could it’s actually someone’s house and the whole village was like that you know just ovens left outside there were some cats that had been left and people had just left everything and ran and that whole um little road was like that you know i mean you just saw these places where people had just had to abandon their lives so i suppose we’re talking about my fear of the moment and our fear of moment just imagine what it was like to live there to live through that um and to have to go you know it wasn’t just a story of the cartels you were telling you were telling the story of the people who abandoned their villages you had to move on and you took us to the border and you connected the dots between the cartels the fighting for territory and then ordinary people were trying to live in that situation there’s one family they hear my laptop i’ve just taken a still from your film and i’m wondering what happened to this family they fled because their young teen daughter just here um the cartel kidnapped her for a couple of days and they were afraid what happened to this family john yeah yeah they it’s exactly as you said it and we met them in on the on the mexican border and they were really brave they were the only people that would speak to us actually on camera about what had happened to them and um just this week actually somebody we heard back from leticia who’s the mother saw the matriarch of the family the one that holds it all together and they actually managed to get over to the united states um asking for asylum um and they’re currently uh in the us so that was such a relief um to hear that because we’ve been with so many families that had had to flee most of them it was because and this also i have to say producer amparo rodriguez and our producer vicente calderon really stood out for us in this they just gathered so many testimonies if they wanted to speak on camera or not people um show them photos of their dead sons their dead relatives in the morgue people that just said we just have to leave everything just the same as that family you know they went in the dead of night in the car they left everything behind they were living i think there were six of them in two tents including that little girl in two tents on the border there just and and i asked them but how are you feeling right now and they would say well we’re happy we’re all alive and we’re together i just can’t i think it’s difficult to imagine that kind of danger and that kind of fear and they said they could never go back so i suppose a happy story for them but i i reckon there were a lot of people on the board a real wave of migration from mitsuko and i think that a lot of people there wouldn’t have had the same success i suppose john we’re going to leave it there but i am going to point everybody who’s watching the stream today to have a look here on my laptop because i want you to watch this film the full report living in mexico’s kill zone in 25 minutes john and his team take us inside to mexico inside metrocan and really some of the difficulties that people are having there thank you john thank you steph thank you catherine thank you for watching if there are any stories that you’d like us to do on the stream you can tweet us at aj stream i’ll see you next time take care [Music] everybody you

Where is Ethiopia\'s Tigray war headed? | The Stream

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