OMNA TIGRAY – SEPTEMBER 2022 SITUATION REPORT
Twenty-two months into the genocidal war on Tigray, the Ethiopian government and its allies have broken the “humanitarian truce” and resumed their full-scale active war on besieged Tigray, which has been without enough food and essential services since November 2020. Since the start of the genocidal war, an estimated 500,000 people have been killed through militarized violence, starvation, and lack of access to healthcare. Today, the people of Tigray are again subjected to an offensive by brutal invading forces that have previously committed countless atrocities amounting to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide.
Among the crimes committed since November 2020 are wholesale destruction, looting, aerial attacks targeting civilians, torture, unlawful detention, extrajudicial killings, massacres, weaponized Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), and weaponizing humanitarian aid and access. Most recently, on August 26, 2022, the Ethiopian government bombed a residential area in Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, hitting a kindergarten and causing dozens of casualties. This airstrike was followed by the bombing of other residential areas and the surrounding area of Mekelle General Hospital on the night of August 30. The Ethiopian government continues to act with impunity, killing civilians. Airstrikes are likely to continue as the Ethiopian government and its allies from the Amhara region and Eritrea launched an offensive on Tigray on four separate fronts on September 1, 2022. The latest aerial attack occurred on September 14, 2022, and killed ten civilians. The resumption of full-scale war comes as the international community failed to facilitate peace negotiations and largely ignored the signs of impending war.
While the international community focused on the prospect of peace negotiations between the Tigray and the Ethiopian governments, it did little to assure their success. International actors put their support behind an African Union (AU) led peace process that was ill-fated from the beginning, as the AU’s High Representative for the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo, often put forth Ethiopian government talking points. Furthermore, had the international community paid attention and recognized the Ethiopian government’s preparations for more war, adequate pressure could have been applied to the Ethiopian government to restore essential services in Tigray and end hostilities. Instead, the Abiy administration did precisely what the European Union’s Ambassador to Ethiopia called against at the beginning of June 2022: using a humanitarian truce to prepare for another war.
Peace negotiations failed despite the Tigray government and Tigray Defense Forces (TDF)’s commitment to peace. For a region besieged for almost two years, peace in the interest of mitigating human suffering has been the main objective. However, despite shows of good faith by the Tigray government, including withdrawing the TDF from Afar and Amhara regions and releasing 4,000 prisoners of war whose existence the Ethiopian government denied, the Ethiopian government continued an inhumane siege and humanitarian blockade. No one will suffer more from renewed war than Tigrayan civilians who do not have access to a functioning health system and Tigrayans across Ethiopia who are being unlawfully detained in a new wave of mass arrests. Tigray, however, has been put in a position where it has no choice but to defend itself from invading forces. We continue to call on the international community to condemn the actions of the Ethiopian government and its allies and take concrete and stern steps to stop the genocidal war on Tigray.