Ethiopian police are reportedly hunting for ethnic Tigrayans amid fears of an impending civil war.

According to Reuters, a United Nations security report seen on Friday showed that the Ethiopian police visited an office of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Amhara region, and requested a list of workers who are natives of Tigray.

The report noted that the police chief explained that the request was in line with “the order of identifying ethnic Tigrayans from all government agencies and NGOs”.

However, the UN responded that its workers are not identified by ethnicity.

The reported search for Tigray natives is the latest in the clampdown by security forces on leaders of north Ethiopian region, which borders Amhara.

There has been a conflict between the federal government and the Tigray region, which has led thousands of Ethiopians to cross over to Sudan for safety.

Crisis erupted when the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) were alleged to have attacked the national defence forces base in Tigray, and Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian prime minister, launched a military offensive on November 4 in response, stating that “the last red line has been crossed.”

Prior to the November 4 declaration, the TPLF has been at loggerheads with the Abiy administration over calls for more autonomy — Tigray is one of Ethiopia’s nine autonomous states.

According to the UN, as of November 11, over 7,000 refugees had fled Ethiopia to Sudan within 48 hours.

The UN has also raised concern about inability to get aid to refugees in the country.

“With telephone lines still cut and transport links disrupted, it is impossible for humanitarians to get vital supplies into Ethiopia’s Tigray region or assess evolving humanitarian needs,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said in a statement issued on Thursday.

However, Ahmed has dismissed concerns that the situation could degenerate into chaos, adding that the situation will be brought under control.

“Ethiopia is grateful for friends expressing their concern. Our rule of law operation is aimed at guaranteeing peace and stability once and for all by bringing perpetrators of instability to justice,” the prime minister had said in a post on Twitter.

“Concerns that Ethiopia will descend into chaos are unfounded & a result of not understanding our context deeply. Our rule of law enforcement operation, as a sovereign state with the capacity to manage its own internal affairs, will wrap up soon by ending the prevailing impunity.”


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