OMNA TIGRAY – MAY 2022 SITUATION REPORT
It has been over a month since the Ethiopian government declared what it claimed to be a “humanitarian truce,” promising to facilitate humanitarian access to Tigray. However, since this declaration, less than 4 percent of the trucks required to address the man-made famine in Tigray have been allowed to enter the region. The irregular and piecemeal humanitarian convoys that have been allowed into the region are severely inadequate in addressing the humanitarian catastrophe that has been caused by the Ethiopian government’s 10 months-long siege. Despite the Ethiopian government’s proclaimed commitment to facilitate humanitarian deliveries to Tigray, aid workers, including Michael Dunford of the World Food Programme (WFP), report negotiating with regional authorities for the safe passage of aid convoys. That humanitarian organizations have to negotiate access with regional leaders rather than the federal government indicates that the federal government is either unable or unwilling to exercise control over regional authorities.
While the federal government and regional authorities continue to obstruct aid delivery, the man-made famine in Tigray grows more severe. Previously, the number of trucks of food that needed to enter Tigray was around 600 a week. In April 2022, a United Nations (UN) official reported that about 2,000 trucks of food are needed every week to meet the region’s needs. Without consistent and unhindered humanitarian deliveries, the scale of the need will continue to increase. Additionally, farmers’ lack of access to essential agricultural supplies like seeds and fertilizers means that many will miss the planting season, leading to poor harvest and a food crisis that will affect the region for years to come.
The severe food shortage also affects the ability of healthcare professionals to assist patients in the region. Healthcare professionals at Ayder Referral Hospital reported in April 2022 that Ayder Hospital, one of the last functioning hospitals in Tigray, has begun discharging patients after its food supplies ran out. After completely depleting their food supplies, doctors revealed that they have had to send hundreds of patients home, including infants, children, and people waiting for cancer treatment. In addition to the severe food shortage, the Ethiopian government’s siege has also prevented medicine and medical supplies from reaching the region, leaving doctors unable to provide medical care.
As well as the brutal siege on Tigray, several areas in Tigray remain under the occupation of brutal invading Eritrean forces and Amhara regional forces, including Northern and Western Tigray. In these areas, these forces continue to commit atrocities, among them, forced displacement and weaponized starvation in Irob district in northeastern Tigray, and campaigns of ethnic cleansing in Western Tigray, which comprises of mass arrest, torture, extrajudicial killings, massacres, weaponized rape, and forced displacement. On April 6, 2022, a joint Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International report on atrocities committed in Western Tigray detailed the events that have taken place since November 2020 and labeled them as ethnic cleansing. The Amhara forces’ illegal occupation of Western Tigray is arguably the largest barrier to facilitating peace.
Furthermore, the federal government is engaged in or unable to reign in the numerous conflicts and unrest across the country that threaten to further destabilize Ethiopia and the broader East Africa region. The government is currently waging a military offensive against the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) in Oromia, while clashes between the government and armed groups have been reported in the Benishangul Gumuz, Gambella, Somali, and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Regions (SNNPR). The federal government and militias operating across regional borders have killed hundreds of people, destroyed entire villages, and deeply traumatized communities across the country. This growing political instability comes as swaths of Oromia and Somali regions face a severe drought that threatens hundreds of thousands of people’s lives.
Overall, Ethiopia’s political and humanitarian conditions are extremely fragile. With Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration unwilling and unable to address and willfully fueling the multitude of complex issues that plague the country, the situation is sure to deteriorate quickly, jeopardizing regional and global security.