The Norwegian Nobel Committee issued a rare statement on Thursday suggesting Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed — who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize in part for ending a war between Ethiopia and Eritrea — “has a special responsibility” to end an ongoing civil war within Ethiopia, the Nobel Peace Center reported on Friday.
“As Prime Minister and winner of the Peace Prize, Abiy Ahmed has a special responsibility to end the conflict and help create peace,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee wrote in a statement issued January 13.
The committee referred to a civil war between Ethiopian federal troops based in Addis Ababa and members of a separatist militant group in northern Ethiopia called the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that began on November 4, 2020.
Prime Minister Abiy ordered Ethiopia’s armed forces to launch a comprehensive air and ground offensive against the TPLF after militants allied to the group, which formed in 1975 based on Marxist ideology, attacked federally administered military bases across the Tigray Region.
Ethiopia’s state-run Fana Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) described Abiy on November 26, 2021, as leading Ethiopian troops “on the frontline” during a battle against TPLF militants in Ethiopia’s northeastern Afar region.
“[Ethiopian] Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the army Abiy Ahmed who is now leading the Ethiopian National Defense Forces from the frontline announced that the army has successfully taken control of Asagita in Afar Region,” FBC reported.
“We won’t give in until we bury the enemy,” Abiy told the public broadcaster in a video interview at the time.
“All Ethiopians at home and abroad have shown their solidarity to us. Similar victories will continue. We are in a better position to claim full victory soon and pass on a free and prosperous Ethiopia to coming generations,” the leader affirmed.
“What we want to see is an Ethiopia that stands on our sacrifices — either to be Ethiopian or to be Ethiopia,” Abiy added.
Eritrean forces allied with Addis Ababa have deployed to Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region to assist Ethiopian federal troops in the ongoing civil war. The development serves as a symbolic measure of how drastically Ethiopia’s political landscape has changed since Abiy won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending a decades-long border conflict with neighboring Eritrea.
Ethiopia’s civil war has displaced an estimated 2.2 million people within the Tigray region since it began. The figure includes roughly 60,000 people who have fled to countries bordering Ethiopia, such as Sudan.
“Some 800 people crossed from Ethiopia’s Tigray Region into eastern Sudan in just the first few days of the new year,” a U.N. refugee agency spokesman named Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 4.