Catastrophe ‘unfolding before our eyes’ in Ethiopia’s Tigray region – UN chief

Catastrophe ‘unfolding before our eyes’ in Ethiopia’s Tigray region – UN chief

© UNICEF/Christine Nesbitt A woman brings her child to a clinic in Wajirat in Southern Tigray in Ethiopia to be checked for malnutrition.

(news.un.)—A military confrontation that started 10 months ago in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region is spreading, with serious political, economic and humanitarian implications for the country and the broader region, the Secretary-General warned the Security Council on Thursday.

A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding before our eyes”, António Guterres warned. “The unity of Ethiopia and the stability of the region are at stake”, he added calling for an immediate ceasefire and the launch of national political dialogue.

Outlining the severity of the situation, the UN chief said the military front lines in Tigray have reached the regions of neighbouring Amhara and Afar. 

Tigray remains under a de-facto humanitarian blockade and cut off from electricity and communications, the UN chief informed the Ambassadors.

Dire situation

Mr. Guterres said that actors in Ethiopia have entered the fight through mass mobilization and the activation of regional and armed groups.

Inflammatory rhetoric and ethnic profiling are tearing apart the social fabric of the country”, he emphasized.

Moreover, the human price of the war is “mounting by the day”, as more than two million people have been displaced and millions more are in immediate need of food, water, shelter and health care, said the Secretary-General. 

At least 400,000 people are living in famine-like conditions, with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warning that 100,000 face severe acute malnutrition within the year. 

Amid reports of sexual and gender-based violence, refugee camps have been destroyed and hospitals looted. 

I condemn these atrocious acts in the strongest possible terms”, underscored the Secretary-General.  “There must be accountability”.

Tigray access limited, empty warehouses

While the Organization and its partners have mobilized to reach five million people with food, Mr. Guterres said that the response is “severely” constrained by insecurity, delays and a host of arbitrary restrictions on the work of humanitarian agencies. 

Overland access into Tigray now depends on a single route, through Afar, which involves passing through numerous checkpoints. 

At the same time, although agencies require roughly 100 trucks worth of assistance to reach Mekelle every day, no trucks have arrived for over a week. 

“Warehouses are now empty”, the UN chief lamented.

Beyond Tigray

Beyond Tigray, the conflict in Afar and Amhara has displaced reportedly 300,000 more people, he said, events that have unfolded alongside efforts to maintain broader support across Ethiopia in response to intercommunal violence, flooding and locust infestation.

Mr. Guterres said the fighting has drained one billion dollars from Ethiopia’s coffers, while noting that debt is mounting

Credit access is drying up, inflation is on the rise and the country is suffering from the fifth-highest incidence of COVID-19 cases on the continent.

© UNICEF/Mulugeta Ayene A child is screened for malnutrition at a health centre in Tigray, Ethiopia.

End hostilities, launch national dialogue

Against that backdrop, the Secretary-General repeated his call on parties to immediately end hostilities, without preconditions, and to negotiate a lasting ceasefire.

He underscored that foreign forces should leave the country, full humanitarian access be guaranteed for all areas in need, public services restored and conditions created for an inclusive national political dialogue to address the causes of the conflict and ensure Ethiopian voices direct the pathway to peace. 

Noting that he has been in close contact with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and similarly received a letter from the President of the Tigray region, Mr. Guterres said the UN is ready to work with the African Union and other partners to support dialogue.

“In the period ahead, the attention and unity of the Security Council will be critical”, he attested.

Young Ethiopians casualties of ‘needless conflict’

The UN Chief expressed profound regret over the tragic events unfolding. 

“It is heart-breaking to see many young Ethiopians being instrumentalized and mobilized in the war effort” with their energies channelled into a path of division and destruction, rather than one of building a better future for all Ethiopians, he said, calling them “the ultimate casualties in this needless conflict”.

In every sense, the future of Ethiopia is at stake”, said the Secretary-General.  “Let us pledge to do all we can to advance the path of national cohesion and peace

4 thoughts on “Catastrophe ‘unfolding before our eyes’ in Ethiopia’s Tigray region – UN chief

  1. MY heart truly aches for the poor people of Tigray just as it does for my own poor Oromo people, who are both victims of Abiy’s insane war! This is why I take issue with the pseudo-moralistic statement of Sean Jones, the country Director of USAID in Ethiopia, regarding the accusation he has leveled against the TDF for supposedly “stealing” FOOD AID LOCKED UP in Amhara State Warehouses!

    Re-posted from Ayyaantuu News

    I doubt it that Sean Jones has ever served in the U.S Army! If he had, he would have learned that, SOMETIMES, soldiers do WHATEVER IS NECESSARY to SAVE their own people! It is part of a lesson one learns along with the moral imperative of fighting for one’s buddy! “Save your buddy for your own life’s sake!” That is what it means when the Army says, “You fight to SAVE YOUR BUDDY!” BY EXTENSION, you fight to save YOUR PEOPLE! If that is the case, shouldn’t it be the MORAL DUTY of the TDF to get food aid LOCKED UP in Amhara State Warehouses to its people any which way it can, SPECIALLY WHEN THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT DELIBERATELY BLOCKS FOOD AID FROM REACHING THE PEOPLE OF TIGRAY? Is there a Mother Theresa Sean Jones knows of among leaders of the Amhara Regional State, who is supposed to unselfishly distribute this food aid to the people who desperately need it?

    Does Sean Jones know that the Oromo Liberation Army has been capturing food items clearly marked “USAID,” from Ethiopian Army camps in Guji zone? Does he care enough to educate himself that he is working with an Amhara elite cabal who would run circles around him when it comes to lying and subterfuge? Unfortunately not!

    MEN DIE AND KILL TO PROTECT THEIR OWN PEOPLE, FORGET NABBING ‘STEALING, HE CALLS IT,” SOME SACKS OF GRAIN TO FEED THEIR STARVING PEOPLE! SEAN JONES HAD LEARNED THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE BUT NEVER ITS PROPER APPLICATION IN SITUATIONS OF WAR!

  2. Aba Solan,
    I am an Oromo Nationalist just like you are, but I separate my suspicions of TPLF’s motives towards my own people’s sovereignty from the needs of the people of Tigray! I completely agree with you that the people of Tigray desperately need the support of all people of goodwill including us Oromos, specially at this point in time!!!

    By the way, I also believe that the TPLF may have slowly began to CHANGE through this experience of a brutal war declared against its people by Abiy Ahmed Ali, PRIME MINISTER OF THE AMHARA ETHIOPIAN STATE, who happens to be TPLF’s own protege’! The lesson here is that ‘IT IS INFINITELY MORE BENEFICIAL FOR THE PEOPLE OF TIGRAY TO BE ON THE SIDE OF THE OROMO PEOPLE AND THE OROMO LIBERATION ARMY THAN AGAINST THEM!” I say this BECAUSE, all of a sudden, we are beginning to notice Western Powers initiating a campaign AGAINST the TPLF (Sean Jones at USAID comes to mind!) It seems that the TPLF is REFUSING to follow the script written for it by the US and the Europeans, to RECONQUER Oromia for the PURPOSE OF KEEPING THE ETHIOPIAN EMPIRE IN TACT, AN ENTITY CREATED BY THE AGREEMENT & CONSENT OF WESTERN POWERS IN THE FIRST PLACE, FROM COLLAPSING UNTO ITSELF!

    I say it is RIGHT TO STAND WITH THE PEOPLE OF TIGRAY AT THE TIME OF THEIR NEED!
    Let’s HELP any which way we can outside the organized mechanisms of support already in place! To be GOOD AND DECENT is an Oromo Trait! NEVER EVER let an Amhara innuendo stop you from being who you really are, i.e. BEING GOOD TO HUMANITY!

    FORWARD TO AN INDEPENDENT AND SOVEREIGN OROMO REPUBLIC!
    LET US STAND WITH THE OROMO LIBERATION ARMY!
    LET US BRING FORTH AN OROMO REPUBLIC CONCEIVED IN LIBERTY FOR ALL HER CITIZENS!

    Waqaa Gurracha Oromo Wajiin!

  3. Hello,

    From whatever public information I can gather, the guy has been working in some capacity or another with USAID in Yemen, Colombia, Jordan, etc…None of these countries seem to have BENEFITED in any significant way from Mr Sean Jones’s ‘wisdom’ and work. Read his Bio on USAID’s website about his purported work in Yemen and you decide for yourself…His role in Colombia is even more telling about what irks this man…It is certainly NOT about saving a people from a disaster, but protecting the State or Power under whose auspices he works from harm!

  4. Irkoo,
    You are correct on both counts. Sean Jones DOES not give a hoot about what happens to the people of Oromia or Tigray, as long as he could keep the Ethiopian Amhara State of Abiy Ahmed happy enough to not raise Diplomatic fuss against him and jeopardize his retaining a cushy and well-paid position as Country Director of USAID in Ethiopia. I also found it incredible that he actually has the guile to present his work in Yemen as something any reader should know about…USAID’s work in Yemen is NOT an example of a successful aid program by any measure, as we all know what that country-in-name-only disaster looks like today!

    About the OBVIOUS CAMPAIGN against the TPLF: I am paying real close attention to it! Yes, it seems that the TPLF is not playing along with the RECOMMENDATIONS of the Western Powers so far. As a result, they are slowly beginning to raise the pressure on its leaders to try and get them ‘back in line!’ It will not surprise me if the talking-head “experts” at some of these Think-tanks are not already circulating White Papers, on how to “convince” the TPLF to get back on track with the WESTERN PROGRAM OF KEEPING THE EMPIRE INTACT, AT ANY COST LESS THAN EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN BOOTS ON THE GROUND! I am watching the developments in this area with great interest!
    Enjoyed reading your insightful comments as usual!

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