Very Bad Situation, The Crisis In Tigray Threatens The Future For Civilians
"1.8 million more people in Tigray are on the edge of famine"
A French newspaper has highlighted the warning of a senior UN official that more than 400,000 people have "crossed the threshold of famine" in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, in an eight-month-old war.The United Nations called for a ceasefire.
Le Point newspaper emphasized that "the conflict in Tigray took a dangerous turn on July 5, 2021 with the capture of the regional capital, Mekele, by forces loyal to the splintered regional authorities, the Tigray People's Liberation Front."
The destruction of two bridges destined for the delivery of aid to Tigray is alarming. The Ethiopian government, accused of wanting to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching this area over which its army has lost control, denied any responsibility for what happened.
The situation has "significantly worsened," Acting UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Ramesh Raja Singham said July 2, 2021 at the first public meeting of the UN Security Council on Tigray since the conflict erupted in November 2020.
"It is estimated that more than 400,000 people have passed the famine threshold and an additional 1.8 million people are on the edge of famine," warned Raja Singham.
"Some say the numbers are even higher, and 33,000 children suffer from acute malnutrition," he added.
"The lives of many of these people depend on our ability to provide them with food and medicine, and we have to reach them now, not next week, but now," stressed Raja Singham.
On July 2, 2021, the Ethiopian government denied accusations that it wanted to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching Tigray.
"The suggestion that we plan to suffocate the Tigrayan people by denying humanitarian access and using hunger as a weapon of war is unacceptable," Deputy Prime Minister Demek Mekonnen told diplomats in the capital, Addis Ababa.
Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo said the United Nations is urging the rebel forces, dubbed the Tigray Defense Forces, to "immediately and fully ratify the ceasefire resolution" issued by the Ethiopian government.
"A ceasefire respected by all parties will not only facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, but will also be a starting point for the political efforts needed to chart a path out of the crisis," she added.
After months of tensions, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, sent the army to Tigray on November 4, 2020, to arrest the leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front, accusing them of orchestrating attacks on federal military bases, which Tigray People's Liberation Front denied.
Very Difficult Situation
Abiy Ahmed declared victory after capturing Mekele on November 28, 2020, but fighting never stopped between forces loyal to the Tigray People's Liberation Front and the Ethiopian army, backed by forces from neighboring Amhara regional authorities and the Eritrean border army.
The war plunged the region into a "miserable humanitarian situation", asserts Le Point.
According to the World Food Programme, 5.2 million people, or 91 percent of the population of Tigray, need emergency food assistance.
The World Food Program said it had continued relief operations, hoping to reach 30,000 people by the end of the week.
But it regretted the destruction of the two bridges, saying, "Life will be lost if the supply routes to Tigray are not fully opened and if the parties to the conflict continue to disrupt or endanger freedom of movement."
Many countries, including the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom, on the sidelines of a Security Council meeting, which some African countries did not like to hold, expressed their position that the ongoing conflict is an internal Ethiopian affair, and these countries argued in the same context that any obstacle to access humanitarian aid must be removed.
In his discussions with diplomats in Addis Ababa, Demick emphasized that "a ceasefire has been issued to allow for the distribution of humanitarian aid and for the cultivation of crops."
But with power and communications cut off, flights suspended and most roads out of the region, UN officials and diplomats fear that the current situation will deteriorate.
On 2 July 2021, EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said: "A ceasefire does not mean cutting off electricity to an area or destroying critical infrastructure."
"A credible ceasefire means making every effort to ensure that aid reaches the millions of children, women and men who need it most," he stressed.
Speaking to diplomats, Demick also said that after the national elections on June 21, 2021, which should give Abiy Ahmed a new mandate, the government is preparing for a "comprehensive dialogue to resolve the Tigray crisis."
He declared that "this process should include legal opposition parties and grass-roots members of the Tigray People's Liberation Front who are willing to choose a peaceful path, as do the business community, civil society organizations, the elderly and other prominent figures."
But Ethiopian leaders ruled out any discussion with the leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front.
Deputy Prime Minister, spokesman for the Tigray government crisis cell, Ridwan Hussain, said Addis Ababa wants to punish the leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front for their "responsibilities".
However, Demick said that some TPLF members are "innocent" and could be included in future discussions (dialogues).