A United Nations committee released a damning report on Thursday that painted a dire picture of the conditions in Tigray that includes widespread malnutrition, blaming the Ethiopian government that launched the civil war in November 2020 for staging a blockade against essential aid.
The report prompted Ethiopia officials to demand that the UN leave the country within 72 hours.
Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, said he was “shocked” by the decision of Ethiopia’s foreign ministry to expel the seven officials. The move was seen as the “most significant” expulsion of the organization’s officials from any country, CNN reported. The decision came right after the UN raised alarm over the worsening humanitarian conditions in the country.
A report from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, said about 90 percent of the Tigrayan population is in need of food or some type of assistance. About 79 percent of pregnant women who were screened in the past week suffered from acute malnutrition, the report said. There is concern that there is famine in the war-torn country.
Alex de Waal, the executive director of the World Peace Foundation, a think tank at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, told The Wall Street Journal that Tigray is “definitely in famine.”
“It’s a designation that will hang around the neck of the Ethiopian government as a badge of eternal shame,” he said.
The UN group accused Addis Ababa of blocking aid to the population, an allegation that the government denied. The government gave the UN officials 72 hours to leave the country for “meddling” in their affairs.
TRENDPOST: The Trends Journal has been reporting on the conflict since it began (see “ANOTHER NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER GOES TO WAR,” 10 Nov 2020). These are just a few of the many articles and trend forecasts we have made since then:
- “ETHIOPIA’S TIGRAY WAR HORRORS” (15 Dec 2020)
- “ETHIOPIA AND SUDAN: TENSIONS RISING” (26 Jan 2021)
- “ANOTHER ETHNIC MASSACRE IN ETHIOPIA” (4 May 2021)
- “ETHIOPIAN MILITARY CRISIS CONTINUES TO WORSEN” (29 Jun 2021)
Abiy Ahmed launched the war against Tigray in November, saying it was because they had a vote in September, despite a countrywide voting ban due to the COVID outbreak.
Tigray was considered a potential threat to his power because it makes up about 6 percent of the country’s population of 110 million, and it has ruled Ethiopia for two decades.
He assured the country that his troops would make quick work of the Tigrayan forces, but that has not materialized and there is now a humanitarian crisis.
President Joe Biden, on 17 September, threatened Ethiopia with new sanctions unless they agreed to stop fighting and open the lanes for humanitarian aid.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Thursday that the conflict “must stop.”
“The action follows the release of reports warning that hundreds of thousands of people are starving to death in northern Ethiopia. We’re deeply concerned that this action continues a pattern by the Ethiopian government of obstructing the delivery of food, medicine and other lifesaving supplies to those most in need,” she said.
The Brookings Institute reported that 5.2 million of Tigray’s population of 6 million have faced hunger and have been in need of food assistance for months. Only 10 percent of the supplies earmarked for Tigray have reached their intended target.
TREND FORECAST: This Ethiopian civil war will continue to rage. The longer it lasts, more people will be escaping in efforts to find safe-haven nations. As economic conditions deteriorate across the continent, there will be strong anti-immigration populist movements in Europe to stop the flow of African nationals who will risk their lives to leave nations wracked by civil unrest, poverty, crime, government corruption and violence.