Despite showcasing of aid convoys, most of Tigray is still in famine-like conditions. On 16 June, OCHA’s situation report noted that due to a lack of essential services and functioning markets, as well as an inability to bring in sufficient supplies, fuel, and cash to Tigray, limited access to people in hard-to-reach areas, and a lack of partner presence on the ground in some areas, the overall operating environment remains constrained. The Ethiopian government even prohibits the shipment of chlorine tablets to Tigray for the much-needed disinfection of drinking water.
The present response does not yet meet the rising demands of the most vulnerable persons since the resources available do not match the requirements. Despite the challenges, humanitarian partners continue to give assistance and gather additional funds. During the week before 16 June, food partners in Tigray helped almost 340,000 individuals with 5,303 MT of food.
In total, more than 20,000 MT of food was delivered to more than 1.2 million individuals in the region between early April and the 8th of June. It’s worth noting that most of Tigray’s 6 million inhabitants are estimated to be people in need!
The situation is relatively better in those parts of Amhara and Afar regions, that have also been affected by several months of warfare. As of the 13th of June, more than 10 million individuals in the Amhara region have received food aid. Similarly, as of June 13, approximately 1 million individuals in Afar have received more than 15,500 MT of food at full ration as part of the ongoing food distribution.
In this circular we will focus on the town of Wukro, thanks to the diary kept there by Abba Melaku (section 1). Next, there is the World Agriculture Prize 2021 that was awarded to Professor Mitiku, which we consider also as a token for Tigray’s resilience (section 2). There is also news about peace talks between the Tigrayan and central Ethiopian governments (section 3). However, accountability remains important; Artificial Intelligence figurehead Dr. Timnit Gebru has slammed the ‘both sides’ discourse when it comes to war crimes in and around Tigray (section 4). We conclude with four newly published scientific papers about the Tigray war (section 5), “in the media” (section 6) and opinion pieces (section 7).
- News from Wukro
Father Angel (in Tigrinya: Abba Melaku) is an 84-years old Spanish priest who has lived in Wukro (Tigray) for some 30 years. Angel happened to be in Spain for medical care when the war erupted, and then did every effort to return to Wukro, in which he succeeded in January 2022. His blog is posted in Spanish and it reads like a diary. Even when titles of some pages sound generic (e.g. “Noticias internacionales”), the red thread are the destructions, the blockade and the daily life in Wukro.
The blog is summarised in this article: Trouw, 9 Juni 2022. Missionaris Ángel Olaran is boos dat de wereld niets doet aan de honger in Tigray. ‘Mensenrechten tellen niet meer’ [in Dutch; but Google Translate is quite accurate]
The diary itself is in Spanish, you may again use Google Translate:
|Date||Spanish (with weblinks)||English|
|11/1/2022||Ángel Olaran se siente apoyado con su llegada a Wukro||Angel Olaran feels supported with his arrival in Wukro|
|20/1/2022||Compartimos las primeras imágenes del misionero Ángel Olaran en Wukro||The first images of missionary Angel Olaran in Wukro|
|17/2/2022||Ángel Olaran comparte sus tres primeras semanas en Wukro – La necesidad de alimentos es de prioridad absoluta – Nuestra novia de la muerte||Angel Olaran shares news of his first three weeks in Wukro – The need for food is an absolute priority – Death is our bride|
|24/3/2022||Ecos de la sociedad de Wukro||Echos of the Wukro society|
|24/3/2021||El sentimiento tigriño aflora con el conflicto bélico etíope||The Tigrayan feeling emerges with the Ethiopian war conflict|
|24/3/2022||Negar el Derecho a la Soberanía Alimentaria es un crimen contra la Humanidad – Mantenimiento del comedor de ancianos||Denying the Right to Food Sovereignty is a Crime Against Humanity – Maintenance of the Soup Kitchen for the Elderly|
|24/3/2022||Abuso de la Soberanía Nacional||Abuse of National Sovereignty|
|18/4/2022||Sin camiones humanitarios entraremos en la sobrevivencia de los más fuertes||Without humanitarian trucks we go for the survival of the fittest|
|20/4/2022||Cada día sin llegar la ayuda aumenta este crimen humano en Tigray||Every day without help increases this human crime in Tigray|
|22/4/2022||La Operación «Ley y Orden» contra Tigray||Operation Law and Order against Tigray|
|4/5/2022||Mapa de solicitudes de ayuda – Ayuda que sí nos ha llegado – Comida de Pascua||Map of help requests – Help that has come to us – Easter Meal|
|4/5/2022||¿A quién preocupa los niños que están muriendo en Tigray?||Who cares about the children who are dying in Tigray?|
|25/5/2022||Planes para la reconstrucción de Wukro||Plans for the reconstruction of Wukro|
|25/5/2022||Noticias internacionales y de Wukro||International and Wukro News|
|14/6/2022||Podríamos decir que han echado a Tigray de Etiopía||One could say that they have kicked Tigray out of Ethiopia|
|14/6/2022||Diferencias de trato de la ONU y desajustes mundiales||UN differences in treatment and global mismatches|
Further news about the humanitarian situation in Tigray:
- AP, 27/5/2022: Biggest aid convoy since cease-fire nears Ethiopia’s Tigray
- Devex, 7 June 2022: Mark Lowcock: Ethiopian government blocked Tigray famine declaration
- Ethiopia Insight: Tigray’s once-thriving agriculture sector has been purposely destroyed
- WFP, 6 June 2022: Hunger, famine and starvation: 750,000 people are in the front line, UN study says
- The Guardian, 20 June 2022: ‘It’s death either way’: desperate Tigrayans flee starvation and forced conscription
- Martin Plaut’s blog, 21 June 2022: A critique of Tigray’s aid operation and a response from Tigray’s government
- World Agriculture Prize 2021 for Professor Mitiku Haile (Mekelle University)
The Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences (GCHERA) has awarded Prof. Mitiku Haile of Mekelle University the 2021 World Agriculture Prize, in recognition of his outstanding achievements in agriculture and life science education and scientific research. The nomination was prepared by a whole group (mostly members of this mailing list).
Excerpts from the recommendation letters:
Prof. Zeray Alemseged, Donald N. Pritzker Professor of Organismal Biology & Anatomy, University of Chicago: “Professor Mitiku pioneered the birth and expansion of Mekelle University shepherding the institution from its modest beginnings as college of Dryland Agriculture and Natural Resources to what is today a prominent Ethiopian university enrolling over 30,000 students. In addition to his leadership activities, he has also been heavily involved in teaching and mentoring students including PhD and postdoctoral research fellows.”
Em. Prof. Seppe Deckers, K.U.Leuven: “The impact of this long-standing collaboration in terms of farmers’ livelihoods but also in terms of academic output was enormous, not only in Tigray Region but all over Ethiopia, where this model of agricultural research for development successfully inspired Jimma University, Bahir Dar University and Arba Minch University”; and “Although Prof. Mitiku has already reached retirement age, he is continuing his teaching and research under the horrendous situation of the on-going war in Tigray. This is the third war he and his family are going through, but he is persevering in his mission, convinced that also this war will come to an end and science-based wisdom will be more needed than ever to rebuild Tigray from its ashes.”
From the archive: websites of some international conferences organised at Mekelle University
- HighLand2006: https://ees.kuleuven.be/en/archive/highland2006
- Water2011: https://ees.kuleuven.be/eng/archive/water2011/
- Livelihood 2013: https://ees.kuleuven.be/eng/archive/livelihood2013/
- 20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (2019): http://www.ices20-mu.org/
Mekelle University also organised a celebration, and Prof. Mitiku has been interviewed by VoA, TMH, BBC Tigrigna, Dimtsi Woyane, and FM Mekelle.
- News about diplomacy and peace talks
- Africa Intelligence, 17/6/2022: EU commissioner Janez Lenarcic expected in Addis shortly
- HRW, 17/6/2022: EU Should Press Ethiopia for Tangible Rights Progress
- BBC Newsday, 15/6/2022. Kjetil Tronvoll on the new movements in Ethiopia towards peace negotiations with Tigray (33:51-39:10 into the program)
- Africa Intelligence, 15/6/2022: Abiy sends team to Brussels in bid to emerge from EU’s bad books
- ONU info, 14/6/2022: Erythrée : intensification de la conscription militaire avec le conflit au Tigré, selon un expert [in French] – (Eritrea: intensification of military conscription with the conflict in Tigray, according to an expert) – see also the full report by the UN Human Rights Rapporteur
- Reuters, 14/6/2022: Ethiopia forms body to negotiate with rebellious Tigray forces
- Le Monde, 9/6/2022: En Ethiopie, des négociations s’organisent en coulisse entre le gouvernement et les rebelles du Tigré [in French]
- Global Citizen, 9/6/2022: Tigray War: What Does the Humanitarian Truce Mean for People Living Through the Conflict?
- Africa Intelligence, 8/6/2022: Abiy-Kenyatta talks focus on Oromo rebels
- BBC Focus on Africa: Tigray war: ‘slow but steady’ progress, says Obasanjo
- The Critic, 6/6/2022: Justin Trudeau’s heartless hypocrisy
- Radio France Internationale, 5/6/2022: Éthiopie: le projet de dialogue national inclusif ne part pas sur de bons rails [in French]
- The Africa Report, 2 June 2022: Ethiopia’s new rift: Amhara vs Abiy
- Observador, 1/6/2022: Etiópia defende intervenção militar da Eritreia no Tigray [in Portuguese]
- Addis Insight, 1/6/2022: Jawar Mohammed breaks his silence
- Reuters, 31/5/2022: Eritrean troops shell town in north Ethiopia – U.N.
- Tghat, 27/5/2022: In Response to Ethiopia’s Denial, Tigray Releases a List of PoW Names.
- The Economist, 26/5/2022: Containing Eritrea, the North Korea of Africa
- Africa Confidential, 26/5/2022: Abiy’s war aims meet geopolitics
- Al Jazeera, 25/5/2022: Can Ethiopia build on a truce to end war in Tigray? | The Stream
- Bloomberg, 24 May 2022: Outgoing Somali President Admits Sending 5,000 Troops to Eritrea
- Timnit Gebru slams the ‘both sides’ discourse related to Tigray
Timnit Gebru, figurehead of Artificial Intelligence ethics, has also been very outspoken on the Tigray Genocide. When challenged with the “all sides” argumentation, she replied: “[Other war crimes in Ethiopia] are not nearly at a scale as the Tigray Genocide, with the state apparatus and its elites’ blessing, spread with impunity and denial. I have zero tolerance for genocide denial. Maybe at the beginning of the war, when people may not have had enough info. Not now. Period.”
“Well educated PhD holders, in numbers, have been talking about Tigrayans as a “cancer” and “weeds” to eradicate and numbers of “decolonization” scholars cheering on this genocide. Nothing less than repulsive.”
- Berkeley Talks: Timnit Gebru on how change happens through collective action
Other news items about war crimes and human rights
- VOA Tigrigna, 2/6/2022: ኣብ ሰመራ ተኣሲሮም ዝርከቡ ተወላዶ ትግራይ ኣቓልቦ ማሕበረሰብ ዓለም ይጽውዑ [in Tigrinya] – Tigrayans Detained In Semera Call for International Attention. Summary: Following the outbreak of war, 12,000 ethnic Tigrayans were abducted from Aba’ala and detained near Semera town for over 5 months. They are starving and suffering, 76 of them have already died.
- Reuters, 10/6/2022: In Ethiopia’s civil war, thousands of jailed Tigrayans endured squalor. Deadly Detention.
- The New Humanitarian, 2/6/2022: The Ethiopian border town left in ruins as a ceasefire takes hold
- VOA, 9/6/2022: Ethiopia Denies Tigrayan Detentions, Mass Graves during Tightly Controlled Visit
- Recently emerged video (17/6/2022) of a mass execution carried out by the Amhara Fano militia, geolocated at Chaffa Robit in the Oromo zone of Amhara Region: https://twitter.com/Quen10Tarantino/status/1537927787389915137 . This again confirms a massacre reported in the www.ethiopiatigraywar.com database.
- NPR, 28/5/2022 : Ethiopia set a world record for displacements in a single year: 5.1 million in 2021
- The Conversation, 21/6/2022: Starving civilians is an ancient military tactic, but today it’s a war crime in Ukraine, Yemen, Tigray and elsewhere
- Scientific articles
- Munyaradzi Makoni, 2022. Conflict in Tigray impeding basic care for patients with cancer. The Lancet Oncology. Republished by: https://twitter.com/TghatMedia/status/1536030172872417280/photo/1
- Team, V. (2021). Getting to understand guerrilla mothering. In T. O. Pearce, & A. Moraes (Eds.), Global Perspectives on Motherhood, Mothering and Masculinities (pp. 149-174). Demeter Press.
- Wight, P., & Cowper-Smith, Y. (2022). Mass Atrocities in Ethiopia and Myanmar: The Case for ‘Harm Mitigation’in R2P Implementation. Global Responsibility to Protect, 1(aop), 1-42.
- Nyssen, J. (2022). Western Tigray in 108 historical and 21 ethno-linguistic maps (1607-2009) (Version 3) [Data set]. Zenodo.
Investigative journalist Lucy Kassa was awarded at the Oslo Freedom Forum for her reporting on crimes in the Tigray war.
Presentation by Lucy Kassa: https://oslofreedomforum.com/speakers/lucy-kassa/
Other media articles:
- Le Monde, 2/6/2022: En Ethiopie, la pression s’accroît sur les journalistes après une nouvelle vague d’arrestations [in French]
- The Economist, 16/6/2022: Ethiopia’s capital is a showcase for its leader’s ambition
- The Columbus Dispatch, 24/5/2022: Ethiopians in Greater Columbus fear for relatives during civil war in Tigray region
- Fordham Observer, 31/5/2022: Zuher Ibrahim, Graduate Student and Activist Against Genocide in Tigray, Dies at 23
- Washington Post, 9/6/2022: Facebook fails again to detect hate speech in ads [the article uses hate speech in Ethiopia as the main example]
- TMH, 06/03/2022: Confronting Cardinal Berhaneyesus
- The Economist, 26/5/2022: Inside Eritrea, Africa’s gulag state
- The Guardian, 25 May 2022: ‘I saw an oncologist cry’: Tigray cancer patients sent home to die for lack of drugs
- Time, 23/5/2022: The 100 Most Influential People of 2022 – Abiy Ahmed
- Deutsche Welle, 13/6/2022: Ethiopia: The tale of a border town ravaged by the Tigray conflict
- Associated Press, 19/6/2022: Witnesses say more than 200 killed in Ethiopia ethnic attack
- Financial Times, 20/6/2022: After the war ends, can Ethiopia’s economic ‘miracle’ get back on track?
- Lina AbiRafeh: Women of Tigray are calling out — are we listening?!
- Teklebirhan Fisseha: An Eyewitness Account of the First Days of the Tigray War (Tghat)
- Agnès Callamard and Kenneth Roth: Ethiopia’s Invisible Ethnic Cleansing (Foreign Affairs)
- UMD Media, 29/5/2022: Horn Peace and Conflict Thermometer with Prof Kjetil Tronvoll
- Ethiopian Reporter, 28/5/2022: የመከላከያ ሰራዊት በጀት መቶ ቢልየን ብር ሊሆን ነው – ከውጭ የተጠበቀው 64 ቢልየን ብር አልተገኘም [አበይት ዜና] (in Amharic) – “Defence forces budget will be hundred billion birr – expected foreign support 64 billion has not been secured [major news]”. Seifesilassie Gebremeskel was puzzled by this: “Ethiopia expects donor countries to cover 64% of its defence budget?”, and launched an interesting discussion on twitter – https://twitter.com/SeifGebre/status/1530982483180806146?cxt=HHwWhICztZ-dkr8qAAAA
- Medhanie Gaim and Temesgen Kahsay: Have Ethiopian Universities and Intellectuals Lost Their Raison d’etre? Includes: Representative quotes that Ethiopian professors said about the ongoing genocidal war on Tigray (Tghat)
- Patrick Wight: Abiy Ahmed’s power base is more fragile than ever (Ethiopia Insight)
- The Montreal Institute of Genocide and Human Rights Studies, 1 June 2022: Under siege and out of sight: atrocities in Tigray
- NPO radio, 8/6/2022: Tigreeërs in de val door enorme blokkade [interview of Prof. Mirjam Van Reisen, in Dutch]
- Andrew DeCort: Christian Nationalism Is Tearing Ethiopia Apart (Foreign Policy)
Follow up communication compiled by Prof. Dr. Jan Nyssen.
Jan Nyssen is full professor of Geography at Ghent University (Belgium). Besides numerous scientific publications mostly related to Ethiopia, he published two books: “ካብ ሓረስቶት ደጉዓ ተምቤን እንታይ ንስምዕ”? “What do we hear from the farmers in Dogu’a Tembien”? [in Tigrinya] (2016), and “Geo Trekking in Ethiopia’s Tropical Mountains, the Dogu’a Tembien District”. Springer GeoGuide (2019).