Ethiopia, Tigray's humanitarian drama

Tigray refugees above the Umm Rakouba camp, Sudan Tigray refugees above the Umm Rakouba camp, Sudan AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty

30 November 2020

One month of conflict in Ethiopia has generated a humanitarian crisis affecting millions

On 28 November Makelle, the capital of the northern region of Tigray, was shelled and taken over by the Ethiopian army. A few days earlier, the population had been warned and the authorities had stressed that there would be "no mercy" for those who remained, leading more than 43,000 people to flee the city. The government did not report major civilian casualties, but the indiscriminate violence reported since the beginning of the conflict cast serious doubts on these claims.

The action would be justified by the fact that the Tigray leaders, stained with war crimes, are using the population as a shield. War crimes of which, however - starting with an indiscriminate action against an entire city - both sides are responsible, as confirmed by the survivors. The clashes - culmination of tensions between the Tigray party (which ruled for 30 years) and the current Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Laureate Abiy –resulted in a humanitarian crisis with more than two million Ethiopians suffering from food insecurity and more than 200,000 refugees fleeing to Sudan and Eritrea. The lack of access to the region and the government's hostility towards international observers make accurate assessments difficult.

The international community is condemning the massive human rights violations and is concerned about the precarious stability of one of Africa's largest countries and one of the world's most fragile regions, the Horn of Africa.


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Author: Matteo Consiglio; Editor: Margherita Curti

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