Omna Tigray: On Ethiopia’s Continued Siege of Tigray Despite Its “Humanitarian Truce” Declaration
Despite declaring a “humanitarian truce” on March 24, 2022, the Ethiopian government has not made any demonstrable efforts to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance to Tigray. Reminiscent of the federal government’s “unilateral ceasefire” in June 2021, which was used as a cover to enact a brutal siege on millions of people, there are concerns that this declaration is yet another smokescreen designed to deceive the international community.
In its recent statement addressing the current humanitarian situation, the FDRE Government Communication Services declared that air transportation access was provided to several international humanitarian organizations, but fighting in Abala, Afar has prevented ground transport. Leading with air transportation, which is more costly and delivers minimal supplies, as a sign of optimism and using fighting to excuse why aid trucks destined for Tigray remain in Afar further demonstrates the federal government’s lack of desire for a tangible improvement in the humanitarian catastrophe in Tigray.
Additionally, days after the truce was agreed to by Tigray Regional Government officials, several dozen buses carrying Ethiopian troops reportedly moved toward Tigray’s southern border, from Dessie to Kobo in Amhara state. With no statement made by Prime Minister Abiy or his government concerning this, there are valid concerns that this mass mobilization of troops is not meant to help aid facilitation but is instead in preparation for another military offensive. On March 22, Yilikal Kefale, president of Tigray’s neighboring Amhara region, told regional officials, “The Ethiopia National Defense Force is now in training in order to carry this out. It has been engaged in organizing, training and strengthening itself.” He added, “The Amhara region is building a very large force.”
The actions of the Ethiopian government, Ethiopian National Defense Forces, and allied forces have resulted in at least 900,000 Tigrayans facing famine, with millions more in the region inching closer to that threshold. Telecommunications, electricity, and banking services have yet to be restored, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. Too often, the international community has chosen to take the Ethiopian government at its word rather than looking at its record and actions. This choice has led to the death of tens of thousands of people and endangers millions more. We ask the same members of the international community that were quick to welcome the announcement of the humanitarian truce days ago to use all the means at their disposal to pressure the Ethiopian government to live up to its promises and end its siege of Tigray, which is a clear violation of international humanitarian law. Political and military disputes can no longer be accepted as a viable explanation for the continued obstruction of humanitarian access. Tigray, and its millions of inhabitants, cannot wait.
Omna Tigray – Press Release, March 30, 2021