In Tigray, the farmers are the first victims of a conflict that is lasting

English translation of a broadcast article on Radio France International: https://www.rfi.fr/fr/afrique/20210521-au-tigr%C3%A9-les-agriculteurs-sont-les-premi%C3%A8res-victimes-d-un-conflit-qui-dure

Published on: 21/5/2021

The conflict has been going on for more than seven months in Tigray, northern Ethiopia. The federal army, backed by Eritrean soldiers, is fighting the former power of the TPLF. The humanitarian situation is dire with 4.5 million people food insecure and famine threatening as the planting season approaches. Farmers across Tigray must plow to plant before the July rains.

With our special envoy to Mekelle, Sébastien Németh

In his field, Haleka Solomon pushes, encourages and whips his oxen so they can pull the plough faster. Fear in his stomach, the farmer works hard hoping to harvest in October.

“Eritreans ate my cows. Tanks have crushed all my crops. The military came three times to accuse me of being TPLF and beat me up. So when I see them pass, I sit down and wait. I’m terrified, but I’m not running away otherwise they might think I’m a rebel.  »

In many parts of Tigray, farmers have been killed, their equipment broken, their livestock eaten or stolen.

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To survive at all costs, Gebre Gebremeskel also decided to plow. “Ethiopian soldiers killed several animals and stole my bed. But at least I’m alive and the cows spared could save my life. Anyway without a harvest, we die. So I have to plant, otherwise what will my kids eat?  »

Tons of food, seeds and tools have been distributed, but aid is still insufficient. Dozens of people have already died of starvation. Kassanet came to Adigrat hospital to treat her malnourished baby.

“Some farmers in the village support the rebels. The Eritreans ordered them not to plant. So we’re going to have a very low harvest. Virtually no one is in the fields right now.  »

Experts say it is essential to put an immediate end to the conflict and restore the agricultural sector as soon as possible to avoid a disaster in the coming months.

Pour survivre coûte que coûte, Gebre Gebremeskel a décidé de labourer son champ.
To survive at all costs, Gebre Gebremeskel decided to plow his field. © Sébastien Nemeth / RFI

Parliamentary elections officially postponed until the end of June

With our correspondent in Addis Ababa, Noé Hochet-Bodin

Initially scheduled for June 5, the vote will take place two weeks later, on the 21st. A delay that the Ethiopian electoral commission attributes to logistical problems and the security situation in the country. Parts of the territory will be deprived of a vote on 21 June. And despite a postponement of more than two weeks, many voters will not be able to vote on election day on June 21. This is the scenario set by the Ethiopian electoral commission.

Indeed, in the Amhara, Oromia, Benishangul-Gumuz, Afar and Somali regions, some constituencies have experienced too great delays in voter registration. Delays due in part to the increasingly volatile security situation in Ethiopia. The commission could not specify the exact number of these constituencies.

However, this finding raises several questions. Will calm will be returned to these areas before a possible election is held? Could the rainy season, scheduled from June to August, also disrupt the holding of elections? Finally, will the results of the rest of the country be published before the late constituencies?

This is yet another headache for the electoral commission, which has already had to review all the logistics surrounding the election, including the issue of transportation.

Previously, it was the Ethiopian army that took care of it. But today, the military is deployed across the country and the electoral commission is obliged to ask the provinces to mobilize their own transport.

This postponement does not concern the province of Tigre, which has been in the grip of war for more than six months, and which is already excluded from the vote…

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