OMNA TIGRAY – MARCH 2023 SITUATION REPORT
The genocidal war on Tigray, which officially began when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared war on November 4, 2020, is the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world. Over the last 28 months, an estimated 600,000 people have died in Tigray, and more than 2 million have been displaced. Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Amhara forces, which launched the joint attack against Tigray, have undertaken a deliberate and comprehensive campaign of destruction and massacres across the region, which has devastated its people. In addition to the shocking death toll of this war, tens of thousands of people have been subjected to systematic and widespread Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV). Moreover, the brutal siege imposed on Tigray for the most part of two years has produced severe food insecurity, medical shortages, and a lack of basic supplies. The coordinated destruction of the medical infrastructure of the region has exacerbated the humanitarian conditions further, preventing Tigrayans from receiving care. In all, while the full scale of the devastation in Tigray has been hidden from view due to the Ethiopian government’s communication and information blockade, all accounts indicate that it is one of—if not the bloodiest conflict in the world today.
While a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) was signed between representatives of the Tigrayan and Ethiopian governments in November 2022, conditions on the ground in Tigray have not significantly improved. In the months since the signing of the CoHA, while active fighting has stopped in many places, the dire humanitarian conditions in Tigray have significantly deteriorated. Despite its promise to ensure open and unhindered transportation of humanitarian and medical supplies into Tigray, thus far, the CoHA has failed to deliver relief to vast areas of Tigray. Many rural localities in the region remain inaccessible to aid organizations, and consequently, millions of people have not received the support they desperately need. Moreover, as shown by recent reporting in the Washington Post and BBC, during and after the signing of the CoHA, Tigrayan civilians were still being subjected to horrific violence at the hands of Eritrean soldiers. In February, BBC reported that in the weeks following the CoHA, Eritrean soldiers were committing horrific acts of CRSV against Tigrayan women and girls. Similarly, in late February, the Washington Post published a story about massacres carried out by Eritrean soldiers in the area of Mariam Shewito in November 2022, the same month the CoHA was signed. Overall, the CoHA has failed to deliver on some of its fundamental promises, such as ensuring the safety of civilians. It is, therefore, incumbent on the signatories and supporters to ensure that its terms and conditions are immediately met by verifying the withdrawal of Eritrean and Amhara forces and ensuring unfettered humanitarian access.
Currently, the Tigray regional government is undertaking the political restructuring required by the agreement. It is vital for the government and all stakeholders to ensure that the political arrangement that emerges from this restructuring is inclusive, diverse, and sustainable. Just as all segments of Tigrayan society were affected by the genocidal war, all segments must be meaningfully included in any governance structure that seeks to redress the injustices of the last two years and establish the foundation for sustainable peace. As such, an open and inclusive process is of vital importance. Similarly, long-lasting peace can only be ensured when accountability measures are in place. An attempt to trade justice for the hope of peace adds to the injury of the last two years and risks making any existing arrangements temporary.