There is less war rhetoric about Tigray

Emergency aid returns to Tigray, which has been cut off from the outside world by the war. The Ethiopian government’s blockade of the country – “probably the worst humanitarian handicap in the world” according to USAID – was broken last week when several trucks loaded with food aid entered the area.

There is also less war rhetoric about the conflict that erupted at the end of 2020 between the regional government and the federal system in the capital, Addis Ababa, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. After declaring a ceasefire last month, only a small fight is going on. But reaching a comprehensive peace agreement will require all parties to make major and difficult concessions.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 90 percent of Tigray’s seven million people are in dire need of food. “Nowhere on earth is the health of millions of people more threatened than Tigray,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization.

The blockade imposed by the Ethiopian government has turned the conflict into a closed war, and there can only be horrific speculation about the number of casualties. According to a team of researchers at Ghent University, at least half a million people have died since the outbreak of the war: 50,000 to 100,000 casualties in battle, 150,000 to 200,000 starvation and more than 100,000 additional deaths from lack of access to health care. . There is no accurate data on the humanitarian situation, because there is no telecommunications due to the blockade, and no petrol comes to conduct field investigations.

Drones from Turkey

All sides were victorious for some time during the conflict, but the battle appears to have reached a stalemate. Abi Ahmed’s brief police action to arrest Tigrayan leaders initially led to the arrest of Tigrays. However, after a few months, the Tigra leaders regrouped in the mountains and formed a formidable army. The government army was subsequently expelled from the state, and only the deployment of drones from Turkey, among other things, prevented the Tigris from moving to the gates of Addis Ababa.

The rebel Tigray Liberation Front of the Tigray army demanded Abiy Ahmed’s resignation, but withdrew this request and now wants a referendum in Tigray on possible independence.

Meanwhile, the war and Western sanctions had a devastating effect on the economy, with goods shortages and high inflation. It appears that Abiy Ahmed also wants to restore his shattered status as a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2019. This is one reason why the prime minister has taken a more lenient stance. At a conference last month of Abiy’s Welfare Party, some hard-line Amharic people lost their positions.

This creates an opportunity for peace negotiations to take place clandestinely and indirectly. Abi Ahmed released some Tigrayan leaders and lifted the state of emergency.

ethnic violence

The Tigrayans have dominated national politics for a quarter of a century, and when Abi Ahmed, an Oromo people, took power in 2018 and tried to resolve his dispute with the Tigrayans by military means, he forged an alliance with Eritrea and Amharic. They both have a historical grudge with Tigray.

But in order to reach an agreement with Tigray, the prime minister will now have to lose some of his war partners. Tigray, for example, wants the return of the fertile western part of the state occupied by the Amharic militia.

Read also Widening conflict in Ethiopia turns into ethnic conflict

Perhaps the most dramatic result of the war was the unprecedented ethnic violence in almost all of the country. In Tigray, hospitals and refugee camps have been targeted. Thousands of innocent Tigrayans were detained in Addis Ababa, and all sides carried out ethnic reprisals against civilians. A report released this week reports on the ethnic cleansing of the Tigris in the western state of the state.

Previous investigations indicated widespread killing and looting at the hands of the Eritrean army in the holy city of Aksum. Video footage of Ethiopian forces has emerged showing civilians being pushed off a cliff and one civilian being set on fire.

According to research by Mikkeli University, 120,000 women and girls have experienced sexual violence. Other investigations point to crimes committed by the “Tigris” armed forces against Amharic civilians when they advanced unsuccessfully towards Addis Ababa.

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