(Addis Ababa 29/03/2021)
Freedom Friday (Arbi Harnet) contacts in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, report that a large number of Eritrea troops are to be seen everywhere, now wearing Ethiopian military uniform and badges.
Many are concerned that this might be to avoid pressure from the international community for the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia.
There are also fears that this development may be part of the integration project that was revealed in messages smuggled out over the weekend.
This integration project is said to be designed as integration of the armies of both countries into a single force. It’s feared it could evolve into a confederation between the two countries. Eritreans are concerned that this is being developed covertly, without the knowledge of the Eritrean public.
Freedom Friday is also worried about the fate of fresh Eritrean refugees, including soldiers, who are crossing the border and arriving in Addis, and other parts of Ethiopia, after escaping from forced conscription and the Tigray war.
These newly arrived refugees are joining hundreds of refugees who were forced to flee from UNHCR refugee camps in Tigray after the war began.
Many Eritrean refugees have been traumatised by their experiences at the start of the war, and by the harassment they have faced since they fled from the camps.
There are even fears that the refugees now seeking sanctuary in Addis or elsewhere in Ethiopia might be rounded up and forcibly conscripted into the new integrated Eritrean-Ethiopian army.