OMNA TIGRAY – AUGUST 2022 SITUATION REPORT
Into its 20th month, the genocidal war on Tigray continues with the ongoing occupation of Western Tigray and Irob and a siege that has worsened a humanitarian crisis in which Tigray’s 7 million people are at risk of starvation and death from preventable diseases. Since November 2020, at least an estimated 500,000 Tigrayans have perished. Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Amhara regional forces have subjected hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans to mass scale atrocities. These have included weaponized Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), weaponized hunger, massacres, internment, torture, forced displacement, wholesale destruction, and looting of property and public infrastructure. Tigray remains without essential services, still cut off from electricity and bank and telecommunication services. Though delivery of humanitarian aid has shown some improvement since April 2022, the need in Tigray is immense while the response remains largely inadequate, with lack of fuel hindering relief efforts.
To address the humanitarian crisis and man-made famine in Tigray, at least 285 trucks a day must enter Tigray accompanied by fuel supplies to distribute aid to communities in need. Since April 2022, per the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), 6,105 trucks (22 days worth) have reached Tigray’s capital city of Mekelle without the necessary fuel to distribute it. In July 2022, after a call from the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), some fertilizer reached Mekelle in an attempt to save the planting season, though lack of fuel will likely hinder its distribution, and seeds and more fertilizer are required.
The conditions for Tigrayans across Ethiopia continue to be perilous as waves of mass arrests have intensified in Addis Ababa since July 2022. On July 4, the Tigray government released a statement on the ongoing mass detention of Tigrayans across Ethiopia. It highlighted the detainment of tens of thousands of Tigrayans in camps across the country and the Ethiopian Humans Rights Commission (EHRC)’s selective statement on thousands of Tigrayans languishing in camps in Afar region. In addition, footage of mass graves of Tigrayans who have died from inhumane conditions in a concentration camp in Semera, Afar, has surfaced. The security of Tigrayan refugees in Sudan also continues to be under threat. The World Food Programme (WFP) announced that it would be halving the support to refugees from its already insufficient stock supply.
As the safety and security of Tigrayans across Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa remain unattainable, domestic and regional stability continue to deteriorate. Though Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration speaks of a national dialogue, extreme violence continues in Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz. At the same time, the drought in Somali, Oromia, and Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples’ regions goes unaddressed. In July 2022, a clash between Al-Shabaab and Ethiopian police left 17 officers dead, and the conflict has only escalated with the Ethiopian government sending its forces to the Somali-Ethiopia border. Tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia at the border have been assuaged by a meeting between Abiy and Sudan’s General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan; however, what this rapprochement means for the tens of thousands of Tigrayans in refugee camps in Sudan remains to be seen. Additionally, he tripartite alliance between Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia appears to be on the path to renewal after President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s visit to Asmara, Eritrea.
Despite the continued dire need for basic necessities such as food, clean water, medicine, shelter, fuel, and electricity in Tigray, the international community has become complacent in its response as it focuses on the ceasefire declared at the end of March 2022 and on the pending peace negotiations that have reportedly been delayed. The World Bank is even set to provide the Ethiopian government with millions of dollars to rebuild Tigray while Tigray is still under siege. The stalled peace process and providing funding to rebuild Tigray to those who destroyed it do not serve the immediate and long-term interests of Tigrayans, who are still cut off from essential services and the rest of the world. The international community’s stance has also done nothing to curb mass arrests and detainment of Tigrayans in concentration camps in Ethiopia or to stabilize the region. The international community must keep pressuring the Ethiopian government to ensure unfettered access to Tigray and restore essential services while facilitating the verifiable withdrawal of invading forces from Tigray and ensuring accountability is pursued.