Ethiopia, the silence that fell on Tigray “is killing an entire people”

Avvenire (Italy), 20 July 2022: Etiopia, il silenzio calato sul Tigrai «sta uccidendo un intero popolo» https://www.avvenire.it/mondo/pagine/etiopia-il-silenzio-calato-sul-tigrai-uccide-un-intero-popolo

Paolo Lambruschi; Wednesday 20 July 2022

Local Church and NGOs denounce the delays in the arrival of aid: there is a lack of food and medicines, hospitals are exhausted: “The sick, the children and the pregnant women suffer”

Two women mourn the victims of an air attack on a Tigray market, in June 2021 – Afp / Ansa

Once again it are the diocese of Adigrat and the solitary voice of the elderly Spanish missionary Ángel Olaran that pierce the deadly silence and international indifference that continue to envelop Tigray. From 4 November 2020, the beginning of the conflict between the central government and the Tigray authorities, and despite the humanitarian truce proclaimed by Addis Ababa at the end of March, the blackout continues.

Aid comes with a dropper and the dramatic images broadcast by a German documentary from the ARTE satellite network have confirmed the tragic effects of the blockade. There is a lack of food and medicines, hospitals are exhausted and children, pregnant women, young mothers and the sick are paying the price .

A tragedy caused, the Tigray regional authorities denounce, by human hand with genocidal intent as it could have caused nearly one million deaths out of a population of seven million in Tigray .

Father Olaran wrote a denunciation letter in Wukro, one of the martyr cities of the conflict, which was published online. He criticizes the UN, the EU and the African Union for “the indifference to the sufferings of the Tigrayans” and for doing nothing to force the government of Prime Minister Abiy to ease the restrictions.

The Catholic priest points in particular to the blockade of banks and money transfers to the region. “In this way – continues Father Ángel – churches and humanitarian organizations are unable to access funds to provide the necessary help”. According to Olaran, suicides and mental distress due to lack of food are on the rise.

He was echoed by an appeal of the Adigrat Catholic Diocesan Secretariat to the international community and to all the parties in conflict to support humanitarian aid and “give a voice to the population so that they can have free access to aid, guaranteeing their right to life”.

In an interview with the BBC, the director of the World Food Program for Northern Ethiopia, Adrian van der Knaap, confirmed that since April the UN has reached half of the people it planned to help, about 1.1 million Tigrayans out of two million. Not more than 4,000 truckloads have passed through the single Semera-Macallè corridor in four months. For Van der Knaap, other corridors need to be opened. He added, however, that neither Ethiopians nor Tigrayans are stopping the trucks at the moment, but the volume of aid is in his opinion “insufficient”.

And from the Netherlands, Gebremeskel Kassa makes his voice heard to stop what he calls genocide. He is a young Tigrayan high-level official who was part of the interim administration appointed by Abiy Ahmed from November 2020 to June 2021, in place of the regional government removed from Macallè. But the massacres of civilians and rapes in Aksum and in rural villages carried out by the Eritrean army allied with Ethiopia, by Somali soldiers and by the federal forces, which he witnessed, led him to report the attempted genocide first and then to seek asylum abroad.

“I express – denounces Gebremeskel Kassa – my deep concern for human rights and for the humanitarian catastrophe that is affecting the population of Tigray. What I have seen, the evidence gathered and the blockade perpetrated by Ethiopia lead me to conclude that a genocide is taking place”. Not to mention, he accuses, “that Ethiopia allowed the occupation by Eritrean troops of parts of the western and eastern territory of Tigray, in particular that inhabited by the Irob minority. In addition, the war caused 2.2 million displaced persons and the death of almost a million people”. Finally, he appeals to the Italian government, which has granted a loan of 22 million dollars to Addis Ababa, “to put pressure on the government to stop the genocide.”

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