International community's concern for a possible humanitarian catastrophe in Ethiopia

People walking in a desolate valley in Africa People walking in a desolate valley in Africa Tom Cleary on Unsplash

8 November 2021

The on-going conflict in the Ethiopian Tigray region is likely to endanger the livelihood of millions of Ethiopians and could impact on the stability of the entire Horn of Africa

In his address to the United Nations Security Council, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peace-building Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, expressed his great concern in regard to the humanitarian crisis that may be imminent in Ethiopia. Ms. DiCarlo is convinced that the continued fighting would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences and could impact the other crises in the Horn of Africa. 

The fighting in the Tigray region started in early November 2020. The Government, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, declared a nationwide state of emergency on 2 November 2021, after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and their allies started their offensive towards the south, threatening the capital, Addis Abeba.

According to UN news, in the Tigray region, more than five million people lack food and are in need of humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, a large number of people fled to the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar. However, since 18 October 2021, no aid trucks with cash, fuel and supplies were able to reach the region due to the continued airstrikes. In this regard, Ms. DiCarlo highlighted the necessity to facilitate people’s access to humanitarian relief. The lack of access for humanitarian organizations leads to a lack of water, food, mobile clinics and medicines for a population that was already facing significant challenges in the form of local conflicts, flooding, drought and infectious diseases.

In his recent visit to Ethiopia, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths had a meeting with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, de facto authorities in Tigray and women affected by the conflict, further to which Mr. Griffiths also stressed the necessity to permit  humanitarian support for people in need.

Ms. DiCarlo recalls that the report of the joint UN-Ethiopian Human Rights showed that both sides in the conflict violated international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law, alleging that in addition war crimes and crimes against humanity could have been  committed. She stressed that the Ethiopians have shown their commitment to the democratic process through the election of the current Prime Minister and the transformation of power. It is therefore  in the interest of the entire population to cease  the hostilities and to solve the crisis through an intra-Ethiopian dialogue.


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Author: Pietro Mattioli

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