On November 2, 2021, the government of Ethiopia declared a state of emergency, as a war that threatens to tear apart Ethiopia rapidly escalated. A bloody war between the Ethiopian government and the insurgent Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has claimed at least 52,000 lives in the nation’s northern Tigray region. So what is the current situation in
Who are the Tigrayans?
Only seven million inhabitants out of a total population of 110 million, they are largely small holding farmers inhabiting small communal villages living primarily in Ethiopia’s mountainous northwestern corner, which borders Eritrea and Sudan. After the Oromo, Amhara and Somali, they constitute the fourth largest ethnic group in the country. They have played a significant role in the country’s recent history and a long history of military successes. From leading the rebel march to Addis Ababa in 1991 that overthrew a cruel Marxist dictatorship and bearing the brunt of a battle with Eritrea in 1998-2000 that killed hundreds of thousands of people. The rugged terrain of their locale is excellent for their guerilla-type warfare reinforced further with local expertise and cooperation. It had developed from a handful of individuals to Ethiopia’s most formidable armed liberation movement in the last 16 years.
As the ongoing Tigray War intensifies, footage of war crimes is being circulated on the internet primarily by the Tigrai Media House in the United States...
What's happening in Ethiopia?
Conflicts between the two date back several years. As tensions exponentially rose, fighting broke out into an open civil war when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a series of military operations in Tigray earlier last year. He had accused local authorities of attacking a military camp and attempting to loot military assets, but the TPLF denied the charge and accused Abiy of concocting the story to justify the offensive. The rebels were initially routed by government forces with the help of allies, but the situation changed in January of this year when the Ethiopian National Election Board voided the party’s registration, citing acts of violence and rebellion by the party’s leadership against the federal government in 2020, as well as a lack of representation.
As the Tigrayan forces conquered the vital cities of Dessie and Kombolcha in late October, allowing them to proceed down the main road into Addis Ababa, Abiy Ahmed announced a nationwide state of emergency and called on all citizens to resist the invading insurgents. The US special envoy’s visit to Addis Ababa this week boosted diplomatic efforts to avert an attack on the Ethiopian capital. Meanwhile, the UN has stated that “the stability of Ethiopia and the wider region is at stake,” and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a coalition of East African countries, have both called for an urgent ceasefire.
As journalists are prohibited from entering war zones, accurate information regarding the conflict is difficult to come by. Massacres, sexual violence, and other crimes have been reported from both sides of the conflict, as well as charges that an embargo on Tigrayan supplies has resulted in famine, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. As the Tigray forces continue to accuse PM Abiy Ahmed of attempting to carry out a genocide campaign, which the government denies, the world watches on in horror as the blood-stained reality of the war in Ethiopia is presented in its newly-found limelight and its countless atrocities are exposed.
Finally, those Ethiopians who have fortunately survived, so far, have two exclusive choices - join the 3 million who have already fled the country or suffer the dire fate that lay just ahead of them...
1. Person. “Tigrayan Forces Say They Will 'Hunt down' Foreign Mercenaries.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 12 Nov. 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/tigrayan-forces-say-will-hunt-down-foreign-nationals-aiding-ethiopia-war-2021-11-12/.
2. Walsh, Declan, and Abdi Latif Dahir. “Why Is Ethiopia at War with Itself?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 5 Nov. 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/article/ethiopia-tigray-conflict-explained.html.