The Conflict in Ethiopia: A Humanitarian Disaster

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The Conflict in Ethiopia: A Humanitarian Disaster

In conversation with Paulos Tesfagiorgis, Pierre Beaudet

While over 950,000 people are on the move in the northern province of Tigray, a huge humanitarian disaster is already hitting Tigrayans hard. One of the aggravating factors is that the Ethiopian army currently occupying Tigray is trying to prevent people from crossing over to Sudan. Large numbers of people are displaced and end up in make-shift camps without UN support or protection. Moreover, the UN reports several attacks that have caused havoc and destruction in these camps.

Adding to that disaster, the United Nations fears massive community transmission of COVID in Tigray, increased by displacement... and the collapse of health services. The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that only a small fraction of the needy population (2.3 million out of the total population of 6 million) have accessed emergency support (food, medication, shelter). According to Paulos Tesfagiorgis, “the strategy seems to be to transform the war into mass starvation so that the people of Tigray will either die or become beggars unable to have a meaningful say in their own present and future fate.”

The UN reports that hospitals (outside Tigray’s capital Mekelle) have been looted and destroyed. Humanitarian convoys set up by the UN sit idle and cannot go into the most-affected regions.

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