Displaying items by tag: Tigray
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.’
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’.
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.
Ashenafi Hailu was racing on his motorcycle to the aid of a friend trapped by the Ethiopian government’s military offensive in the Tigray region when a group of men on foot confronted him, identifying themselves as militia members of a rival ethnic group. They dragged him by a noose to save bullets. As the noose tightened around his neck he thought he would die. He passed out and awoke alone near a pile of bodies. His motorcycle and cash were gone. Nearly 50,000 Ethiopians fleeing Tigray have sought safety in Sudan, in what the UN called the worst exodus of refugees Ethiopia has seen in over two decades. Reports of looting, ethnic antagonism, and killings are at odds with Ethiopia’s prime minister saying, ‘No civilians are being hurt.’ Worrying prospects are that the fighting is degenerating into a guerrilla war that could unravel both Ethiopia’s national fabric and the stability of the entire Horn of Africa region, including Eritrea and Sudan.
A rocket attack by Tigray forces on Eritrea marks a major escalation of violence as thousands of Ethiopian refugees continue to pour into Sudan. The UN refugee agency says that over 20,000 people have crossed into Sudan from Ethiopia’s northern region, where federal government troops are battling forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party of the regional government. The conflict, which has spilled over Ethiopia’s borders, threatens to destabilise the wider Horn of Africa region. The latest two-week war has killed hundreds of people. Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed in 2018 to end decades of hostilities, resulting in Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed winning the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. However, there is still a deep-seated animosity between Eritrea and the battle-hardened TPLF over the border conflict.