If you have followed my travels or have read my blog over the years you know that Ethiopia is my favorite country in the world. There is something about the people, the culture, its beauty and the sheer size of the country I love. Even though I love Ethiopia I have never been under a grand illusion that it is a unified country. There have been mass arrests and killings in Oromia, journalist and freedom fighter imprisonments, and now a civil war with mass atrocities and forced starvation against the people of the Tigray region. In fact, just this week reports of an airstrike on a market near Tigray’s capital Mekele killed at least 64 people and wounded over 100.
Even as war is still happening in Ethiopia’s northernmost region, its national election officially wrapped on Monday without voting in Tigray, of course. Now, ballots are being tallied across the country with the likelihood that the current prime minister Abiy Ahmend will be reelected.
Everyday Ethiopians simply want more jobs and peace in their country. In my visits to Ethiopia I have found it to be a country that needs more employment opportunities especially for the youth, but also as a country that is improving and elevating national health, becoming a beacon of progress in Africa, and works diligently with the international community on poverty-alleviation programs.
Prime Minister Ahmed, in his defense, has told the international press that there is no hunger in Tigray and that the government will take care of it. In the meantime he implored Ethiopians to plant trees on election day and his government has railed against the international community who say there are indeed mass killings, rapes, and starvation occuring in Tigray.
For me, as someone who loves Ethiopia and duly understands its challenges I, too, would like it to become one unified country. That is probably wishful thinking. More importantly, I hope that the humanitarian crisis that rages in Tigray, a region I haven’t visited yet, ceases soon and that aid gets to the people in dire need. The World Food Programme has said it has fed over a million people in Tigray, but are appealing for more aid in the coming months.
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All photos copyright: Jennifer James