OMNA TIGRAY – JULY 2022 SITUATION REPORT
It has been over 600 days since the genocidal war on Tigray was declared by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, endangering the lives of 7 million Tigrayans and resulting in one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. On June 14, 2022, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that “at least 33,000 children in inaccessible parts of Tigray are severely malnourished and face imminent death without immediate health.” They added that weekly treatment admission for severe acute malnutrition increased our-fold in one month. The man-made famine in Tigray is exacerbated by the deliberate destruction and looting of health facilities and the targeting of health care workers, resulting in a total collapse of the Tigrayan health system. The genocidal war on Tigray is waged by the Ethiopian and Eritrean forces, along with Amhara militias and vigilantes. It is estimated that as many as 500,000 people have died from war and famine in Tigray over 16 months. Invading forces have engaged in ethnic cleansing, deliberate blocking of humanitarian aid, weaponized rape, extrajudicial killings of civilians, and many other grave crimes against humanity and international humanitarian law violations that together would amount to genocide if investigated.
Presently in Tigray, it is the primary planting season, and there is a serious concern that farmers will be unable to sow their fields, further worsening food insecurity. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), “with the rainfall outlook foreseen to be favorable, the season offers a crucial and cost-effective opportunity to improve food availability across the region” . The call for seeds and fertilizers, and the threat posed to the planting season by the ongoing siege on Tigray, have been repeatedly mentioned by international partners with little gains achieved. The deliberate withholding of fertilizers and seeds should be understood as a feature of the ongoing man-made famine so that the people of Tigray perish by hunger now that active fighting has ended in most of the region.
The instability and violence across Ethiopia also continue. On June 19, 2022, over 200 Amhara civilians were killed in Ethiopia’s regional state of Oromia. While there are disputes over who is responsible for the killings, it is reflective of a broader issue across the country: widespread violence that the Abiy administration has either facilitated or the administration’s failure to exert control over allied forces and subnational actors. Additionally, on June 26, 2022, Sudan’s military accused Ethiopia’s army of capturing and executing seven Sudanese soldiers and one civilian.
Despite widespread instability and the Ethiopian government preparing for war, Abiy speaks of peace in Tigray. During his June 2022 address to Parliament, Abiy revealed that his administration is ready to move towards negotiations with the Government of Tigray, announcing the creation of a negotiation committee to be led by Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen. The announcement of the talks follows the Government of Tigray’s good-faith gesture in releasing over 4,000 prisoners of war and the Abiy administration’s slight improvement in facilitating humanitarian aid into Tigray. While international partners are hopeful about the negotiations between the Abiy administration and the Government of Tigray, they must not prematurely rush to fully normalize relations until the Ethiopian government restores all essential services in Tigray and humanitarian aid is disbursed with fertilizers, seeds, and fuel guaranteed.