Omna Tigray: On Ethiopia’s Airstrikes Against Civilians in Tigray, Including at Camps for Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees

Omna Tigray is horrified by the Ethiopian government’s recent airstrikes across Tigray, and most alarmingly, by an airstrike targeting a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Dedebit, northwest Tigray. This airstrike was carried out around midnight, on January 8th, a day after many Tigrayans were celebrating their Christmas holiday. 

Aid workers initially stated that at least 56 people were killed and 30+ were injured in the attack on the camp, many of whom were women and children. The number of injured civilians has since gone up to over 126, with more deaths anticipated due to the complete collapse of Tigray’s healthcare system. Particularly distressing is that the camp hosted IDPs that had escaped the Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Amhara forces’ violent ethnic cleansing campaign in  Western Tigray.    

The attack comes three days after an Ethiopian airstrike killed three Eritrean refugees and injured four in the Mai Aini refugee camp in southern Tigray and one day after the Ethiopian government released several prominent political prisoners, ostensibly to promote political reconciliation. Despite the Ethiopian government’s rhetoric of dialogue and reconciliation, it continues to target civilians across Tigray. There is no justification for targeting IDP and refugee camps and attacking men, women, and children who have already had their lives completely uprooted by this genocidal war. 

According to aid agencies, before the latest strike, at least 146 people had been killed (including UNHCR staff member Hiluf Michael Mehari) and 213 injured due to airstrikes in Tigray since October 18, 2021. As a result of the most recent airstrikes, an already extremely limited humanitarian response has been further curtailed. The threat posed by drone strikes led humanitarian partners to suspend their activities in part of the Tigray region. Now in its second year of conflict, this proves especially devastating for a region that has 2.2 million IDPs, 900,000 people facing famine, and an estimated 6.8 million in dire need of aid amid a blockade of food and medical supplies.

The Ethiopian government’s continuous indiscriminate aerial attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructures in Tigray, in addition to its ongoing siege on the region, demonstrate the genocidal intent at the root of its campaign. The paralysis of the international community and the lack of meaningful condemnation and action against Ethiopia and its drone weapon suppliers, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Iran, and China, have emboldened the Ethiopian government to continue its brazen attacks against Tigrayans with impunity. As we have witnessed in Syria and Yemen, countries indebted to Middle Eastern powers due to large-scale weapons purchases risk state collapse, and in turn, regional stability. This must be prevented for Ethiopia.

To protect the lives of millions of Tigrayans and civilians across Ethiopia, we are calling for:

  • An arms embargo on Ethiopia and Eritrea, and countries supplying drones and other weapons to Ethiopia (including the UAE, Turkey, Iran, and China);
  • A no-fly zone that does not hinder humanitarian aid delivery;
  • Sanctions on Ethiopian and Eritrean government officials;
  • Pressure on the Ethiopian government to engage in negotiations;
  • Increased and immediate humanitarian access into all of Tigray;
  • Immediate, internationally monitored, and verifiable withdrawal of Eritrean, Ethiopian, and Amhara forces from all of Tigray;
  • Complete restoration of services, including internet, electricity, water, banking, transportation, and telecommunications throughout Tigray;
  • An EU, US, or UN-mediated national dialogue for Ethiopia;
  • The independent investigative mechanism to include investigations of drone supplying actors and linked atrocities, and for the commission to be operational quickly and victim-centered; and 
  • Official recognition of the Tigray Genocide committed by the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces, Amhara Special Forces, and Amhara Fano Militia against the Tigrayan people.


Omna Tigray

Omna TigrayPress Release, January 10, 2021