It has been more than 450 days since a devastating genocidal war was declared on the 7 million people of Tigray. For over 14 months, this war has been waged on the ground by the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF), forces from the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions of Ethiopia, foreign troops from Eritrea and Somalia, and bolstered by drones and armaments supplied by a range of foreign actors including China, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran.

Since the declaration of war on November 4, 2020, tens of thousands of civilians have been killed, over 70 thousand civilians have fled to neighboring Sudan, more than 2.2 million have been internally displaced, and tens of thousands of people have been subjected to weaponized Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV). Hunger has been a key tool of the genocidal regime in Ethiopia, which has created and weaponized famine to unleash collective punishment on millions of Tigrayans. The Ethiopian government’s blockade of lifesaving food and medical aid from entering Tigray has exacerbated the humanitarian disaster, caused thousands of preventable deaths, and placed hundreds of thousands at imminent risk of starvation-related death.

In December 2021, Tigrayan forces withdrew from neighboring regions to facilitate a ceasefire and end hostilities. However, instead of seizing this opportunity to end the instability, the Ethiopian government intensified its siege and aerial attacks against Tigrayan civilians. In addition to the already significant Eritrean military and intelligence presence in Ethiopia, there have been renewed deployments of Eritrean forces and attempts to reinvade liberated areas of Tigray, despite the Ethiopian government’s repeated declarations that Eritrean forces would no longer be involved in the genocidal war.

The intensifying aerial attacks are worsening an already dire humanitarian situation in Tigray, brought about by more than a year of genocidal warfare and an 8-month siege orchestrated by the Ethiopian government. On January 20, 2022, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reported that in the first week of January 2022, Tigray received the lowest food distribution it has ever gotten since the onset of the war. This report highlighted that while hundreds of thousands of people in the neighboring Afar and Amhara regions have been reached with food assistance in January, a staggeringly low 10,500 people (~0.4% of need) were reached in Tigray during the same period. UNOCHA further underscored that food and fuel supplies are almost entirely exhausted in besieged Tigray.

Emboldened by the international community’s inaction, which seems intent on taking the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government at its word despite countless instances where it has misrepresented the facts or outright lied, the Ethiopian government and its regional and international allies have continued blocking the delivery of desperately needed lifesaving aid into Tigray. Having adopted a strategy of deliberate misrepresentation, the Abiy regime makes empty pledges to the international community to allow humanitarian assistance into Tigray while actively preventing this on the ground. For instance, on January 23, 2022, the Tigray regional government reported that a 27-truck World Food Program (WFP) convoy from the Afar region was blocked from entering Tigray. This indicates that either the Abiy government is making false promises to the international community and openly going back on its word, or the regional government in Afar is defying the orders of the federal government—raising questions about the level of control the federal government has over the regional governments and their forces in various parts of the country.

The international community is rightly concerned about regional order and stability in the geopolitically important Horn of Africa. As such, it is incumbent on global actors to recognize that the largest threat to regional stability stems from the Ethiopian federal government, the Eritrean government, and their alliance. The Ethiopian government has neither the ability nor willingness to facilitate an all-inclusive national dialogue and peace process to resolve the myriad of political crises that plague the Ethiopian state. Given the vested international interests that the United States (US), European Union (EU), China, and Gulf countries have in the East Africa region, it is vital that the international community recognize the immense risk to regional peace Ethiopia’s Abiy and Eritrea’s dictator Isaias Afewerki pose.