OMNA TIGRAY – NOVEMBER 2023 QUARTERLY SITUATION REPORT
Between October 13 and 16, 2023, Tigrayans worldwide partook in three days of mourning for all the lives lost in a genocidal war that has spanned 3 years. There were lives taken on the battlefield, as Tigrayans from all walks of life–farmers, professors, priests, students, and survivors of unspeakable atrocities–valiantly defended their people, their families from genocide.
In the days and weeks preceding the mourning period, families across Tigray, including those suffering in internally displaced camps, were officially informed of the martyrdom of their loved ones. The toll the genocidal war took on the people of Tigray became clear and memorialized. The loss of tens of thousands, of a generation of young people, in an effort to protect their families. There were also of course the hundreds of thousands of Tigrayan civilians who were killed at the hands of invading and genocidal forces. At the height of the war, Tigrayans had to make the decision to stay vulnerable to unimaginable atrocities carried out in Tigray’s cities, towns, and villages, or risk their lives and join Tigray’s defense forces to defend against the genocidal onslaught.
We mourn and honor each and every life lost–each grandparent, mother, father, sibling, relative, and friend taken. We also promise to continue to be a voice for those silenced and amplify Tigrayan voices. We will persist in our efforts for justice and accountability for all crimes committed, past and present, against the people of Tigray.
To the people of Tigray, you are not forgotten.
To allies and the international community, we urge you to take note of the ongoing immense suffering and atrocities taking place in Tigray and advocate for and facilitate an end to both.
November 4, 2023 marks three years since the onset of the genocidal war on Tigray. Over the last three years, Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF), Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF), Amhara regional forces and Fano militias have unleashed a campaign of terror and destruction that has devastated Tigray. The most conservative estimates indicate that over 800,000 people have died in Tigray as a result of the genocidal war while tens of thousands more have been injured. The weaponized Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) unleashed by the invading forces has affected tens of thousands of survivors and victims who still have not accessed the care and support they desperately need. The wholesale destruction as part of the war and subsequent siege by the Ethiopian government which prevented the transportation of vital supplies including food, medicine, among other humanitarian aid, into Tigray gave rise to famine which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Over 60,000 Tigrayans have been forced to flee to neighboring Sudan, where they are facing extremely dangerous conditions due to the conflict that erupted there in April 2023. Moreover, there are over 2 million internally displaced Tigrayans, many of whom have been ethnically cleansed from their homes in Western Tigray by Amhara regional forces and Fano militias. Internally Displaced People (IDPs) remain unable to access basic necessities including food and clean water, and are sheltering in makeshift camps, abandoned buildings, and schools in Tigray.
Overall, in terms of the magnitude of destruction and loss, the genocidal war on Tigray is the worst conflict of the 21st century to date.
The aerial bombardment, deliberate destruction, and urban warfare undertaken by Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Amhara forces has destroyed vital infrastructure, public facilities, and private property throughout Tigray. Facilities like hospitals, universities, and factories were deliberately targeted and destroyed by the invading forces, and most still remain non-functional. Health outcomes have worsened in the region, as hospitals are unable to provide the same level of care they did before the war. As such, people are dying due to illnesses and conditions that are treatable. Moreover, the disruption of medical supplies and vaccines has meant that childhood diseases that were nearly eradicated have returned.
Additionally, most children in Tigray have not been able to resume their studies as many schools are either completely destroyed or being used to shelter IDPs. The April 2023 decision by a number of humanitarian organizations, most notably the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to suspend food aid in Tigray and in Ethiopia more broadly has severely exacerbated the famine crisis in the region and has already resulted in the deaths of thousands of people. In all, the destruction unleashed in Tigray over the last three years has decimated the region and will require a significant mobilization of resources to remedy.
Despite the November 2022 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA), human rights violations and atrocities continue unabated in Western Tigray, which is under the control of Amhara forces, and in Irob and other occupied areas in northern Tigray under the control of Eritrean forces. There are reports of sexual violence, forced displacement, enforced disappearances, illegal imprisonment, torture, and killings in and around these areas under occupation. It is incumbent on the signatories and facilitators of the CoHA to ensure that the terms of the agreement are implemented and adhered to.
This requires the immediate and verifiable removal of Amhara forces from Western Tigray and the resettlement of Tigrayan IDPs back in their homes and the verifiable removal of Eritrean forces from all parts of Tigray. Moreover, rehabilitation and support for all those affected by the war is desperately needed. Finally, it is vital for all stakeholders to ensure the establishment of a robust and legitimate justice and accountability mechanism. With the Human Rights Council’s failure to renew the mandate of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE), it is incumbent on all states to establish an independent mechanism to ensure accountability for the war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide perpetrated against Tigrayans.