Displaying items by tag: Ethiopia
Ayder Referral Hospital, Tigray’s main hospital, is now turning away sick people they can no longer treat. They have run out of supplies, casting doubt on the government’s claim to have opened the war-torn Ethiopian region to humanitarian aid. 200 patients, including babies with meningitis and tuberculosis and a 14-year-old boy with HIV, have been turned away. Two cancer patients waiting for operations were turned away due to no cancer drugs. These needy people are suffering from widespread famine and the ravages of a brutal 17-month war. Officials said they could only accommodate patients with food or money. A paediatric ward nurse said ten patients left when there was no more food: they said, ‘Pray for us; instead of dying here let’s go home and die there.’
Tigray remains cut off from the rest of the world in Ethiopia’s civil war where the northern region experiences famine, and hospitals with no supplies. Countless Tigray civilians have fled south to Addis Ababa, many are Christians. Pastor T is a Tigray church leader who often cares for refugees from neighboring Eritrea. Now, Pastor T and his church members have themselves become refugees.
Nevertheless, these Christians continue to feed hungry refugees and have planted over 10 churches in the region. But as Tigray Protestants their welcome in Addis Ababa hasn’t been warm. Ethnic tensions are soaring due to the northeast conflict and Tigray Protestants are viewed with deep suspicion and even hatred by those of Muslim and Orthodox background.
Tigray has been isolated for 17 months. Millions are in desperate need of food and essentials. Tigray's capital is under the control of the rebels. Getting the basics for survival is a source of anxiety. Every bank is shut so people are unable to use the money they have. People are borrowing money from friends and relatives to buy food. Relatives abroad want to help but all phone lines and the internet have been cut off. Plus, any available food has skyrocketed in price. The staple grain, teff, wheat flour, pepper and cooking oil are harder to afford. Foraged wild fruits, which people never used to eat, are now on sale at roadside stalls. People planted vegetables but water is scarce. They sell possessions to live. When nothing is left they start begging in the street. Human Rights Watch-Amnesty report accuses paramilitaries of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Horn of Africa is in crisis with drought and food insecurity. 20 million are impacted or in need of aid; pray for the survival needs of both livestock and humans to be met after three failed rainy seasons back to back. In Somalia 4.3 million people are hungry, and people fear a repeat of the 2012 famine. In Ethiopia, the drought is compounding the humanitarian disaster of the war in the country’s north, while in neighbouring Kenya’s pastoralist zone, the loss of cattle is triggering raids and clashes between communities. In Myanmar farmers say the 2021 coup worsened food insecurity and is nothing short of a disaster. Humanitarian needs multiply and continue to spiral. One million people needed aid before the coup; now it’s 14 million. 500,000 people have been displaced since the coup, a quarter of the population is food insecure and violent new conflicts spread in a new wave of anti-coup militias. ‘There is fear everywhere’, one aid worker said.
Since hostilities began last November, there have been rapes and massacres of civilians on a large scale. As far back as January, aid agencies were sounding alarms about how much worse the situation could get. Continued fighting, bureaucratic hurdles, and aid blockades have since led to a continuing famine affecting hundreds of thousands of people. More than two million people have been displaced from their homes, and tens of thousands have died. The declaration of a nationwide state of emergency by the federal government on Tuesday has triggered fears of more instability. The war has degenerated into a brutal conflict to crush and erode Tigray, and talk of elimination of entire ethnic groups has been normalised. The USA has sent a special envoy to Ethiopia for talks, and on 16 November there will be a meeting of the East African bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development to discuss the worsening conflict.
The UN warned of ‘unprecedented’ malnutrition among women and children as fears of mass starvation grow in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region. Ethiopia has expelled seven senior UN officials, including the head of UNICEF, for ‘meddling’ in its affairs. They suspended the operations of Doctors Without Borders and the Norwegian Refugee Committee, accusing them of spreading ‘misinformation’ about the war. Last November the prime minister sent troops to topple the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in response to its attacks on army camps. UN aid chief Martin Griffiths reported a three-month ‘de facto blockade’, restricting aid to 10% of what is needed for six million people. 400,000 people have ‘crossed the threshold into famine’. Federal officials blame TPLF for obstructing deliveries, but the US State Department said access to essential supplies and services was ‘being denied by the Ethiopian government’ and there were ‘indications of a siege’.
Soldiers occupying Tigray are ethnically purging native people – detaining in concentration camps and massacring dozens. In Humera soldiers are going ‘door-to-door’ searching for ethnic Tigrayans in the campaign of slaughter with occupying soldiers saying ‘exterminate all Tigrayan residents in the city’. Last week Tigray forces attacked a hospital and religious site with artillery, killing civilians and looting medicine. See Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders have 800 staff treating war-wounded people, supporting five hospitals and running dozens of mobile clinics. See US officials recently reported fighters looting warehouses, trucks and causing destruction in every village visited. On 7th September the UN said 100 trucks of food and non-food items must enter Tigray daily to meet humanitarian needs. But less than 500 trucks have arrived since July. Over five million need emergency assistance and 400,000 face famine-like conditions. That number could get higher.
For months, Ethiopia’s civil war has raged in Tigray, demolishing infrastructure and threatening famine. Despite talks of ceasefire, no end to the violence is in sight. Most concerning is the involvement of Eritrean soldiers in the conflict. Pastor Eric Foley says they have destroyed two refugee camps in the Tigray region. ‘They took people who had escaped from Eritrea and were living in the camps back to Eritrea and imprisoned them. Those who escaped the raids fled further into Ethiopia. The Tigray Church is a beacon during all this chaos. People are gathering in churches, grieving at the churches, bringing dead bodies to churchyards to bury them in mass graves. The Gospel is still making a way for people to have hope. The Christians are opening their homes and doing all the things that Jesus taught us to do.’
UNICEF is underscoring the need for continual aid for children amid a worsening situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Five months since the conflict began, a picture is emerging of killings and sexual violence against women and children. UNICEF reports schools and health centres looted, vandalised, and occupied by armed groups. In addition, deliberate attacks of violence and looting have left 60% of health care facilities not operational. 57% of boreholes (providing water) in 13 towns are not functional, and a quarter of the region’s schools have sustained damage. Although UNICEF and partners give humanitarian aid to the needy, there are urgent needs for children’s protection. Fighting, media blackout, and government-imposed restrictions leave humanitarian organisations unable to provide adequate aid, and they have had difficulty accurately gauging the need. Basic service outlets must be protected and the safety and security of everyone working in and accessing those services guaranteed.
Up to 1,000 people – including priests and church leaders – were killed in recent attacks in Ethiopia. A Belgium-based nonprofit organisation released reports of 1,000 people hiding in an Orthodox church in Aksum, thought to contain the Ark of the Covenant. They were brought out and shot in the square. 750 were definitely murdered, and possibly more of the injured died later. Inside Ethiopia there is political conflict. The government’s term of office ended in September, and the May elections were cancelled due to coronavirus. This has created political unrest where Christians and Muslims are dying in a long line of fatal assaults against innocent people in the Tigray region. 154 were killed in December in Maryam Dengelat, and ten from one family were killed on Christmas Day. Also, Eritrean troops have been killing dozens.