Friday, October 7

The breaking of the truce in Tigray sentences the population to famine

Live in Tigerto the north of Ethiopia, is today practically a death sentence. The dangerousness of the war being waged there and the volatility of the periods of relative calm have left more than six million Tigrins without the slightest hope. The region is closed to aid workers and is very little humanitarian aid that manages to reach people. Last Wednesday the Ethiopian government and the rebels of Tigra broke the brittle truce that they declared last March in the war they have been waging since 2020. On Friday, the government’s bombing of civilian areas in the region’s capital, Mekele, killed at least four people, two of them children.

The region lives incommunicado with the outside, and subjected to a regime of constant mistreatment carried out by a Ethiopian central government turned executioner with the support of his Eritrean neighbor. 85% of the health system has been destroyed or is unusable, banks are closed, citizens’ money blocked, medicines and food do not arrive, and the only way to survive for many young people is to join the army, explain sources operating in the ground but refuse to be identified out of fear.

The hunger is the main drama and the epidemic that is costing the lives of thousands of people. The outbreak of war in the spring of 2020 prevented farmers from planting their fields and the food safety It is today a utopia. Half of the pregnant or lactating women in Tigray are malnourished, as are a third of the children under the age of five, leading to stunted growth and premature death, according to a report published last week by the World Food Program.

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“enemy” region

The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abey Ahmed, who was Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for his promotion of negotiations to end the war with his neighbor Eritrea, designated this region as “enemy” after several disagreements with the local Tigrin government. Since then, the population lives under harsh conditions. Murders, rapes and torture They left a trail of blood behind them that never stops growing. Now, the Armed Forces of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (FPLT), the party that governed the region when the armed conflict broke out, have accused the Army of launching a “wide offensive” in the south of the Tigrin territory with the support of special troops. and militias from the neighboring Amhara region.

After a siege which lasted almost a year, humanitarian convoys they began to enter the region again in April, but aid workers are having difficulty distributing food. The number of people in need has risen to 89%, with those in “serious” need rising from 40% in January to nearly 50%. They are currently very Few humanitarian aid projects continue in this punished region to which must be added a tremendous drought and an epidemic of famine That makes her even more vulnerable. More of 5.5 million people are experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity and not even alone UNHCR and the Red Cross they manage to bring food shipments to the region.

“The child malnutrition is becoming more serious and thousands of people had to flee as displaced people to Mekele, the regional capital where the situation is no different,” sources from the Initiatives Solidaries organization. The Father Angel Olarán, An 84-year-old Basque missionary, he is one of the few who continues to help in the region. Since its foundation, they explain that they only manage to contact him a couple of times a month and that support from abroad is almost impossible.

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almost no humanitarian aid

For larger organizations, such as UNHCR or the Red Cross, the situation is not very different, but it is somewhat more hopeful. “We are working in Tigray through the local delegations we have and locals”, he explains to EL PERIÓDICO Alyona Synenko, the Africa regional spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross. “Difficult to get help but lately we have managed to carry trucks and planes with resources. When the conflict is activated, transit in the region becomes very complicated,” explains Sanyenko. Other NGOs do not even operate. This is the case of Doctors Without Borders, which was forced to leave the area after the murder of the Spanish aid worker María H ., who was murdered along with two other Ethiopian colleagues, all employees of the NGO, a crime for which responsibilities have not yet been established.

The gasoline in the Tigray region it reaches stratospheric prices, so transport is limited to a few minibuses and a few humanitarian vehicles. The hospitals outside the capital, Mekele, have no electricity, medicines or resources to care for their patients. “At first we focused on trying to supply power to hospitals, because power outages prevented patients from being treated,” recalls the spokeswoman.

sex jobs

In the absence of aid and banking services, the population relies heavily on money from relatives and friends abroad to survive, but Tigrin authorities have imposed remittance restrictions, and measures against smugglers smuggling money through checkpoints have been intensified. So much so is the situation that some reports from inside Tigray state that “many women and girls are forced to resort to sex work to survivewhile others suggest there has been an increase in suicides,” published this past week Guardian.

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From the Red Cross, they assure that the desperation and need to which many women who have lost everything, as well as their families, are subjected, leads them to this type of action. “We are treating it as sexual violence and we try to help women to get the resources in another way, so that they are not alone”, says Sanyenko. Sexual violence is common in conflicts and causes a double victimization of women since it also tends to stigmatize them.

Last week, EU and US envoys urged the Ethiopian government to quickly resume services and lift restrictions on fuel essential for aid distribution. This same week, after the breakdown of the truce, the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, called for an immediate cessation of violence and a return to dialogue that seems to take time to become effective.

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