The conflict in Ethiopia continues to claim new victims. Shortly after its launch on November 4, 2020, evidence of the massacre of several hundred people began to emerge in the city of Mai Kadra in the western Tigre. Over the next weeks there were reports of thousands of deaths, including civilians, thousands fleeing to Sudan, rape and widespread use of sexual violence, and more.
In December 2020, the United Nations alleged that the crimes violated international humanitarian law and human rights law, including deliberate targeting of civilians, extrajudicial executions and widespread looting.
In 2021, the situation has only worsened. In late January 2021, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patton, reported serious allegations of sexual violence being used as a weapon of war in the Tigre region of Ethiopia.
Atrocities committed in the area can be qualified as crimes against humanity. In addition, the crime may also meet the legal definition of genocide because of the specific targeting of ethnic tigresses. Indeed, the Special Adviser for Genocide Prevention, Elise Vairaimu Nederitu, highlighted this serious risk “with weapons and hate speech, militarization of society, ethnic profiling, denial of human access and the blocking of food in fighting areas.” by specific ethnic communities.
In 2021, the United Nations raised concerns about the emergence of a humanitarian crisis and the risk of famine. In November 2021, the United Nations reported that 9.4 million people in northern Ethiopia were “living their worst nightmare” due to the ongoing conflict and that more than 80% of them, or 7.8 million, were “behind the lines of war”.
In early January 2022, there were reports of a hospital in Tigre running out of food and medical supplies. As reported by medical professionals who have worked, visited and collaborated with Aydar Comprehensive Specialty Hospital, a leading educational institution in Mekele in Tigre, the hospital is in dire need of food and medical supplies.
Staff spent two days at Ayder Referral Hospital in Mekele on June 24, 2021 … [+] At least 64 people were killed and 180 injured in an airstrike on a market in Ethiopia’s war-torn northern Tigre region, a local health official said. The military has denied targeting civilians.
Ayder Hospital was reportedly forced to cancel basic surgery. Availability of essential medicines “has fallen from about 80% a year ago to less than 20%, and laboratory testing has fallen from 94% to less than 50%”. Patients are said to die from lack of reliable oxygen supply. Apparently, “neurosurgeons operate based solely on clinical skill without the benefit of imaging – a situation reminiscent of the 19th century.”
Medical professionals at Ayder Hospital called for immediate delivery of medical supplies such as insulin. Their stock should run out within a week, putting many patients at risk of their lives and health. The hospital has run out of intravenous fluids, chemotherapy and morphine. Additionally, hospital staff have not been paid for most of 2021.
According to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), the WHO has not been allowed to send medical supplies to the region since mid-2021.
In addition, no World Food Program (WFP) aid convoy has reached Mekele since December 14, 2021. It includes a storehouse of nutrient-rich foods to treat malnourished women and children. Remaining stock is extremely low and should run out soon.
The blockade of the tigre is believed to be causing a shortage of medical supplies and food. The United Nations blames Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for the blockade, which ultimately deprives the area of basic necessities, including food and medical supplies. The government of Ethiopia blames the Tigre People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Tigre’s situation requires immediate assistance. The region needs access to food and medical supplies to meet the growing needs of the population and prevent an even more serious disaster from unfolding.