World Tour – Conflict in Ethiopia, and mink in Denmark

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa reporter Onize Ohikere.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Ethiopia Tigray conflict, massacre—We start today here in Africa. 


Ethiopia appears to be on the brink of civil war. Government forces have moved into the northern Tigray region, where a militant group is trying to seize control.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front—or TPLF—used to be an influential part of the country’s military and government. But when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018, he introduced massive political reforms. That won him the Nobel Peace Prize, but left the TPLF feeling marginalized. The group broke off from the government last year.

AUDIO: [Abiy Ahmed, speaking Amharic]

The government accuses the rebels of attacking a military base in Tigray last month. The TPLF says the government started the fighting. Both sides are heavily armed.

Meanwhile, a separate rebel group killed 54 people in western Ethiopia on Sunday. Gunmen from the Oromo Liberation Army dragged people from their homes, took them to a school, and shot them. Survivors say the gunmen targeted ethnic Amharas, the second largest ethnic group in Ethiopia. 

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most powerful and populous countries. It’s also a key U.S. security ally. Rights groups worry the Tigray conflict will destabilize the nation and lead to more ethnic attacks.

Canary Islands migrants—Next, we go to the Canary Islands. 


More than 1,600 migrants arrived in the islands this weekend. They came in small boats from West African countries like Senegal and Gambia. Migrants trying to get to Europe began coming to the Canary Islands after Mediterranean countries cracked down on migrant traffic. At least 11,000 migrants have traveled to the islands this year, compared to about 2,500 at this time last year.

The increased traffic involves increased risk. At least 140 people drowned in a shipwreck off the coast of Senegal last month. A boat carrying about 200 migrants caught fire and capsized just hours after setting off. It’s the deadliest shipwreck this year.

Denmark drops plans to kill mink—Next, we go to Europe. 

AUDIO: Since June 2020, COVID-19 has been seen in mink. As of yesterday 216 mink farms are infected.

Denmark has reversed its plans to kill millions of mink after some of the animals tested positive for a mutated version of the coronavirus. Officials feared the mutated strain might jump to humans, and the government didn’t want to take any chances. 

Last week, the prime minister ordered the country’s 1,000 mink farms to kill their entire populations—15 million animals. That sparked outrage. Critics pointed out that the move would devastate mink farmers, and the government quickly dropped the plan. 

Mink are small mammals related to weasels and ferrets. Denmark is the world’s largest mink fur exporter, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the world’s mink production.

Sri Lanka pilot whales—And finally, we end today in Asia.


Rescue crews in Sri Lanka returned 100 whales to the sea after they became stranded on a beach. Scores of short-finned pilot whales began washing ashore on Monday afternoon. It was the largest single pod of whales ever stranded in Sri Lanka. Whales are very social animals and may have followed one misguided whale off course. The country’s navy and coast guard joined forces with locals to help the whales. They used jet skis to tow them off the sand and back into the ocean.

That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.

(Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix via AP) Henrik Nordgaard Hansen and Ann-Mona Kulsoe Larsen kill their herd, which consists of 3000 mother minks and their cubs, on their farm near Naestved, Denmark, Friday Nov. 6, 2020. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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