Since last November, Ethiopia and Eritrea’s militaries as well as militia groups from Ethiopia’s Amhara region have imposed heavy atrocities on the country’s northern Tigray region. Reports from the ground from journalists and aid agencies reveal mass rapes, murders, and intentional starvation of 350,000 of the region’s 6 million people. Farmers are not being allowed to plant their crops and food trucks are being turned around at gunpoint.
Yesterday, the New York Times published photos by conflict photographer Lydnsey Addario who captured some of the sufferings in Tigray including rape survivors to children who have been caught in the crossfire.
Once dominating the Ethiopian government, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front lost power after it was banned in 2018 by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Now political infighting has turned to what the aid community deems an impending humanitarian disaster. If aid and funding do not reach the region in time, hundreds of thousands will be on the brink of starvation starting with the most vulnerable: children.
“These children are among more than 2.2 million in northern Ethiopia who are acutely food insecure, including at least 140,000 in Tigray who are already facing famine-like conditions (IPC level 5),” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore in a statement. “In the last month alone, we have seen a four-fold increase in weekly admissions of children for treatment of severe acute malnutrition.”
UNICEF projects that 56,000 children under five in Tigray will need treatment this year for severe acute malnutrition – almost six times higher than the average annual caseload for the region.
On June 21 Ethiopia’s general election is slated to take place. With the unfavorable international attention on the country right now Ahmed promised a peaceful election in Ethiopia’s first free and fair elections. Despite Ahmed’s calls for Ethiopian citizens to vote and plant trees simultaneously to “adorn Ethiopia”, the African Union this week began an inquiry into the Tigray region on a three-month fact finding mission subject to renewal. As Ethiopia’s government touts solidarity with its political allies the world watches the fracturing of a country with famine and starvation of some of its citizens imminent.