Civil war in Ethiopia: “On the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe”

Status: 01/14/2022 05:04 p.m

The UN reports that more than a hundred people have been killed in airstrikes in Tigray since the beginning of the year. Millions of people depend on food aid, but do not get it.

Criticism of the Ethiopian government under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed comes from many quarters. The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, accuses the central government of wanting to deliberately withhold food and medicine from the people in the northern Tigray region with a blockade. The conditions on site are a “hell”.

“We are on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe,” agrees Michael Dunford, director of the World Food Program (WFP). Because of the intense fighting, the WFP has not been able to deliver anything to Tigray since December. However, 9.4 million people there and in the neighboring regions urgently need food aid.

Hit civilian targets

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reports at least 108 dead and 75 injured in airstrikes in Tigray. They are said to have been carried out by the central government’s air force. An educational facility, a bus, a refugee camp and other civilian targets were also hit.

According to the Human Rights Commissioner, 17 people were killed in a drone attack on a mill on Monday alone. The UN called for compliance with the principles of international humanitarian law and, in particular, to protect civilians. Violations could be interpreted as war crimes.

Millions of people fleeing

Since November 2020 there have been armed conflicts between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The Ethiopian Army (ENDF), various regional militias and the army of neighboring Eritrea are on the side of Prime Minister Abiy. In particular, the Oromia Liberation Army (OLA) fights together with the TPLF and its military arm (TDF).

Both parties to the conflict are accused of serious crimes. The fighting has long since spread to other areas. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions have fled.

Nobel Prize Committee: “Special Responsibility”

In the meantime, even the Nobel Prize committee has approached Abiy, although, as the committee itself writes, it is not his role to “assess a peace prize winner’s attitude after the prize has been received”. Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 after making peace with Eritrea after decades of conflict.

Now the Nobel Prize Committee is warning that Abiy has a special responsibility to contribute to peace in Tigray. It is unacceptable that there is not enough humanitarian aid.

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