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(ETHIOPIA) Crisis in Tigray Report: As fighting enters it 9th month and humanitarian agencies have seen a rise in ‘rape & pillaging’ together with killing by all parties #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – July.31: This, together with the killing, pillaging, and rape, committed by all parties, has created a humanitarian crisis. With the UN warning it would run out of food supplies today, Amy Braunschweiger speaks with Human Rights Watch’s Horn of Africa director Laetitia Bader about the devastation on the ground, and about how to report on a conflict when enormous obstacles hinder obtaining real-time information.

HRW Report: The Latest on the Crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region: Fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region is entering its ninth month, and it may intensify after leaders in several of Ethiopia’s regions as well as its capital, Addis Ababa, called on residents, including youth, to mobilize against the Tigray fighters as the conflict has forced more than two million to flee their homes and left millions dependent on food aid. Deepening the crisis, Ethiopia’s government has repeatedly cut basic services to the region, including electricity and communications.

July 30, 2021 2:54AM EDT:

What do we know about the situation in Tigray now? 

June saw heavy fighting between Tigrayan and Ethiopian government forces, including Ethiopia’s allied forces from its Amhara region and neighboring Eritrea. On June 28, Tigrayan forces recaptured the regional capital, Mekelle, taking thousands of Ethiopian soldiers prisoner. That same day, the federal government withdrew from Tigray and declared a unilateral ceasefire, citing many reasons including to allow in essential aid.

Yet the government kept Tigray shut off after its declaration.

Since late June, Ethiopian authorities have blocked roads into the region, and access is sporadic. Even now, electricity and fuel supplies are rapidly dwindling, communications and banking have been shut down, and access to cash is severely limited, including for aid agencies operating in the region.

a map of Ethiopia's Tigray region
© Human Rights Watch 

It’s important to underline that a ceasefire should not be necessary to ensure that warring parties allow the civilian population access to humanitarian aid, which is a basic requirement of the law of armed conflict.

Fighting continues. We have received reports of abuses in western Tigray, and last week we learned that fighting expanded to Ethiopia’s Afar region, bordering Tigray to the east, causing thousands to flee.

What abuses have you uncovered over the last eight months?

Early in the fighting, people in Tigray suffered indiscriminate bombing by Ethiopian government forces, killing scores and forcing thousands to flee to Sudan or elsewhere in Ethiopia. Over the following months, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Amhara troops burned crops, occupied and looted homes, and committed extrajudicial killings. We’ve documented 10 days of horror in the historic town of Axum, where Ethiopian and Eritrean forces shelled the town, then conducted widespread pillaging of the town and health centers. Eritrean forces there responded to an ambush by massacring scores of residents in their homes and on the street, including children. In general, we’ve reported on summary executions, sexual violence, pillaging, arbitrary detention, and attacks on factories, schools, and hospitals.

Tigrayan women who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, cook at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, November 25, 2020.
Tigrayan women who fled the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, cook at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, November 25, 2020.© 2020 Nariman El-Mofty/AP Images

Is humanitarian aid still not getting into Tigray today? 

After nearly a month where flights into Tigray were halted, the Ethiopian government permitted humanitarian flights into the region on July 22, although the United Nations said their staff faced stringent, time-consuming checks.

Keep in mind that by early June, there were already 350,000 people facing starvation in Tigray. Four million people, 70 percent of the population, needed food aid. After the government’s unilateral ceasefire declaration, humanitarian workers said that roads, notably through the neighboring Amhara region, were blocked off. On July 1 a bridge you have to cross to enter central Tigray was destroyed and a convoy of 29 trucks carrying food aid was forced to turn back. One aid convoy made it into Tigray two weeks ago, but another was attacked ten days ago in the Afarregion. Another convoy is currently blocked in Afar awaiting government clearance.

Humanitarian workers have been largely unable to bring in food and medical supplies. The UN World Food Program (WFP) warned earlier this week that their supplies in Tigray are within days of running out.

To make matters worse, humanitarian workers have been threatened and attacked. Since the conflict began, 12 aid workers have been killed, including three Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) staff killed in late June. Ethiopian defense forces entered and raided UNICEF offices in late June, dismantling critical communication equipment. Warring parties, notably Eritrean government forces, have deliberately attacked and occupied medical facilities. Over the last three weeks, social media influencers have repeatedly made false online claims against aid workers, putting them at greater risk.

What happened to make food aid so essential in Tigray? 

Ethiopian troops and their allies from Eritrea and the Amhara region have looted and burned crops, and attacked factories and infrastructure. This war started during harvesting season. We interviewed Tigrayans who fled to Sudan who reported that farming equipment and crops were burned and their harvest and livestock looted, notably by Amhara and Eritrean forces.

For months, people were also just too scared to move, given the risks they faced.

A woman walks past a house that was damaged by shelling when federal-aligned forces entered the town of Wukro, in Ethiopia's Tigray region, March 1, 2021. 
A woman walks past a house that was damaged by shelling when federal-aligned forces entered the town of Wukro, in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, March 1, 2021.  2021 Eduarto Soteras/Getty Images© 

How are the Ethiopian federal government’s restrictions on communications hurting people? 

As we speak, the phone lines are once again down in the region. The internet has been cut off since the beginning of the conflict. No phone service makes it difficult for people to receive key information, like which areas may be safe, or where to go if they need medical help.

People also can’t get information about family and friends. I recently spoke to a doctor who fled Tigray into Sudan. His wife had a baby a month ago and he still hasn’t been able to tell his family back home.

It also makes it incredibly difficult for humanitarian workers to help people, and to make decisions around security or to assess a community’s needs. And it hinders the ability of journalists and human rights groups like ours to collect information and report on unfolding abuses.

So how have you been doing research?

Whenever communication lines are restored, we speak with people in the region about what they’ve experienced. We’ve been able to confirm atrocities and witness accounts using forensic analysis and various open-source techniques, including satellite imagery and verification of video and photo materials.

What’s happening with the Eritrean refugees in Tigray? 

Two weeks ago, we heard alarming reports that the two remaining camps for Eritrean refugees in Tigray were caught in the fighting between Tigrayan and Ethiopian government forces. The warring parties need to protect these vulnerable people, and the international community should be thinking about how to support and protect them as well.

Earlier in the conflict, two other refugee camps hosting roughly 20,000 Eritrean refugees were destroyed by Eritrean forces, the military from the country where they fled repression and persecution. Tigrayan militias also killed and sexually assaulted refugees in late 2020, in what appears to be unlawful revenge attacks because of abuses Eritrea’s forces committed in Tigray at the time, including massacres, widespread pillaging, and sexual violence.

There are numerous reports of sexual violence against women and girls. What kind of help are rape survivors able to get?

The UN reported more than 500 cases of gender-based violence in May alone, including against girls. Reports point to uniformed soldiers involved in rape and gang rape, in some cases holding women and girls captive for days. We assume many more survivors haven’t been counted given the challenges with stigma, communication, and finding help. The region only has one clinic providing comprehensive post-rape services.

Humanitarian organizations have reported that women are being sexually exploited in exchange for money for food. These incidents could grow as famine looms.

What’s happening to ethnic Tigrayans in Ethiopia outside of the Tigray region? 

Since the conflict’s beginning, government security forces have harassed, profiled, dismissed from work, and arbitrarily arrested ethnic Tigrayans throughout Ethiopia. Many Tigrayans in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, continue to face discrimination and arbitrary arrest. The government has held incommunicado journalists, political activists, and other people from all walks of life of Tigrayan descent,  their loved ones don’t know how to locate them. Security forces and local officials have closed scores of Tigrayan businesses in the capital.

How has the fighting affected the rest of the country? 

Events in Tigray have attracted a lot of attention because of the gravity of the crimes. But this isn’t happening in a vacuum. For several years we and others have been raising the alarm about a deteriorating human rights situation under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government in many parts of Ethiopia.

Over the past year alone, government security forces have engaged in abuses in the Oromia region, including widespread arbitrary arrest, extrajudicial and public executions, enforced disappearances, and harassment of people with perceived links to Oromo rebel groups. Violence along ethnic and communal lines has broken out in all 10 regions of Ethiopia, resulting in killings, displacement, and destruction of property. In the last days alone, there are reports of deadly violence along the Afar and Somali regional border.

The situation in Ethiopia had deteriorated in the lead-up to late June’s national elections, which many parts of the country didn’t participate in because of security issues and voting irregularities.

Events in Tigray are happening within a context in which the federal and regional governments have failed to tackle the country’s underlying problems. Structural problems and legitimate grievances have not been discussed or responded to, and there has been no credible justice for past government abuses and repression or more recent wrongs.

When Abiy became prime minister in 2018, there was widespread hope that the future could be brighter given promises of sweeping reforms. These haven’t materialized, and these hopes have been dashed for communities throughout the country.

What has been the international response to the Tigray situation? ……..The response by the United Nations and influential governments has been slow and mixed. Over the last few months, there’s been more concerted efforts by the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom about ensuring access to aid and calling for investigations into serious abuses. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has established a commission of inquiry, which the African Union needs to support with financial, technical, and political assistance. The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner For Human Rights (OHCHR) is conducting a joint investigation with Ethiopia’s national human rights commission.

The UN Human Rights Council was very slow to react to the crisis, only putting Tigray on its agenda in mid-July. At the same time, the UN Security Council was in paralysis, discussing Ethiopia for months behind closed doors, with some member states saying the conflict was an “internal matter.” The first public Security Council meeting was not until June.

It’s critical that the key international bodies and governments move beyond condemnatory statements and adopt concrete action. They should push for credible, UN-led investigations, which could pave the way for the prosecution of those responsible for serious abuses. They should also impose individual sanctions on those responsible for violating international human rights and humanitarian law, and adopt an arms embargo.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: July.31: 2021:

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(TIGRAY) LATEST: Ethiopia’s government on Monday declared an immediate, unilateral cease-fire in the region after nearly eight months of deadly conflict and as hundreds of thousands of people face the world’s worst famine crisis in a decade #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – June.30: The cease-fire could calm a war that has destabilized Africa’s second most populous country and threatened to do the same in the wider Horn of Africa, where Ethiopia has been seen as a key security ally for the West. It comes as the country awaits the results of national elections that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed promoted as the centerpiece of reforms that won him the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

TIGRAY: Ethiopia’s Government Declares Immediate, Unilateral Ceasefire in Its Region on Monday as its people face worst famine crisis in a decade as the second horseman of the apocalypse rears its ugly head and today sporadic fighting has continues …

FILE – In this Thursday, May 6, 2021 file photo, the city of Mekele is seen through a bullet hole in a stairway window of the Ayder Referral Hospital, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s government said in a statement carried by state media Monday, June 28, 2021, that it has “positively accepted” a call for an immediate, unilateral cease-fire in its Tigray region after nearly eight months of deadly conflict. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

Abiy’s transformation from making peace to waging war has appalled many observers since the fighting in Tigray erupted in November. Since then, the world has struggled to access much of the region and investigate growing allegations of atrocities including gang rapes and forced starvation.

Ethiopia’s statement was carried by state media shortly after the Tigray interim administration, appointed by the federal government, fled the regional capital, Mekele, and called for a cease-fire on humanitarian grounds so that desperately needed aid can be delivered. Meanwhile, Mekele residents cheered the arrival of Tigray forces.

The cease-fire “will enable farmers to till their land, aid groups to operate without any military movement around and engage with remnants (of Tigray’s former ruling party) who seek peace,” Ethiopia’s statement said, adding that efforts to bring Tigray’s former leaders to justice continue.

Ethiopia said the cease-fire will last until the end of the crucial planting season in Tigray. The season’s end comes in September. The government ordered all federal and regional authorities to respect the cease-fire — crucial as authorities and fighters from the neighboring Amhara region have been accused of atrocities in western Tigray.

“The government has the responsibility to find a political solution to the problem,” the head of the interim administration, Abraham Belay, said in calling for the cease-fire, adding that some elements within Tigray’s former ruling party are willing to engage with the federal government.

There was no immediate comment from the Tigray fighters, with whom Ethiopia had rejected talks. And there was no immediate comment from neighboring Eritrea, whose soldiers have been accused by Tigray residents of some of the worst atrocities in the war.

Thousands of people have been killed in the conflict as Ethiopian and allied forces pursue Tigray’s former leaders and their supporters, and as humanitarian groups plead for more access to the region of 6 million people.

The region in recent days has seen some of the fiercest fighting of the conflict. International pressure on Ethiopia spiked again last week after a military airstrike on a busy market in Tigray killed more than 60 people.

Amid the upheaval on Monday, the United Nations children’s agency said Ethiopian soldiers entered its office in Mekele and dismantled satellite communications equipment, an act it said violated the world body’s immunity. UNICEF last week warned that at least 33,000 severely malnourished children face “imminent risk of death” without more aid reaching Tigray’s people.

Joint UN-Government Tigray mission highlights humanitarian needs and path forward

Photo: WFP/ Kristen Nelson

Photo: WFP/ Kristen Nelsonhttps://www.wfp.org/news/joint-un-government-tigray-mission-highlights-humanitarian-needs-and-path-forward

ADDIS ABABA/ROME – Today, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, David Beasley, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ethiopia, Catherine Sozi, and the Federal Minister of Peace of the Government of Ethiopia, Muferihat Kamil, completed a joint visit to Mekelle in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region, aiming to highlight the need for strong partnership to rapidly scale up a Government-led collective response to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of people in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region. 

Mr. Beasley commended the emergency food assistance that the Government and partners have already provided to the people of Tigray since the onset of the crisis, reaching almost 1.7 million people with emergency food distributions. 26,000 Eritrean refugees residing in two camps have also received food and nutrition assistance.

“But we must do more, together, to meet the needs of the population,” said Mr. Beasley, noting with concern that, “Latest preliminary estimates indicate that 2.5 to 3 million people in the region require emergency food assistance. Reports indicate that the nutrition situation requires greater attention, with young children and pregnant and lactating mothers the most vulnerable.”

Minister Muferihat indicated that the Government of Ethiopia has welcomed recent positive engagements with the Government by senior UN officials, including the Under-Secretary General for Safety and Security, the High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme.

“To ensure that humanitarian assistance in Tigray can be expanded and intensified without delay, the Government is moving with urgency to approve requests for international staff movements into and within Tigray, “ said the Minister, adding that, “Several such requests have been approved over the past few days and the process of rapid and streamlined approvals will continue. The Government will also review visa requests for international humanitarian staff with urgency and priority. Communication capability for UN and humanitarian partners with significant operations in Tigray will be enhanced.”

Confirming the critical importance of enhanced operational presence and communication capability to allow UN agencies and humanitarian partners to scale up humanitarian interventions in Tigray, Ms. Sozi said, “These recent and anticipated developments related to staff movement approvals and communication capability will allow international agencies to design and manage operations safely and responsibly, in close partnership with the Government. This is a tremendous step forward.”

Mr. Beasley announced that WFP has accepted a request from the Government to augment the transportation capacity of the Government and partners to deliver humanitarian assistance into and within Tigray. WFP has also agreed to provide emergency food relief assistance to up to 1 million people in Tigray and launch a blanket supplementary feeding intervention to assist up to 875,000 nutritionally vulnerable children and pregnant and lactating mothers.

SOURCES: The Associated Press, Cara Anna/WPF/

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: Jun.30: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com