Ethiopian army have taken over Tigray’s strategically important city of Shire, according to Tigrayan forces. The announcement comes as diplomats’ concerns about the 23-month civil war’s effects on civilians grow more and more intense.

Why this matter
The loss of Shire, which had an airstrip and served as a staging area for the regional capital, is a major setback. This means that Tigray is partially cut off from accessing help from the outside nations. Shire, one of Tigray’s largest cities, is a strategic target because of its air and road connections and has about 100,000 citizens.

Going forward
The fight with the Ethiopian government, whose troops are being supported by Eritrean friends, has recently escalated.

The Ethiopian government declared on Monday that it aimed to seize control of every airport in Tigray, but on Tuesday there was no official response to the developments in Shire or the allegations that government forces had also advanced in southern Tigray cities.

Though the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) claims that the surrender of control to federal soldiers is just temporary, many civilians have already left Shire. Many of the evacuees had earlier been forced to evacuate their homes in other regions of Tigray and had arrived in Shire where they were residing in temporary camps on school and university campuses.

The TPLF calls for all Tigrayans to continue fighting and claims they are engaged in a “life-or-death conflict,” yet they have also demanded that international communities come to their rescue and compel Ethiopia to end the war.

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