URGENT: The International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia has extended the deadline to submit information and documentation about alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and international refugee law in Ethiopia committed since 3 November 2020. New Deadline – 21 August 2022. See: https://www.ohchr.org/en/hr-bodies/hrc/ichre-ethiopa/call-for-submissions. The format (Word version) may be downloaded from here; submission through the above OHCHR webpage.
IMPORTANT NOTE: this investigation is INDEPENDENT from any parties involved in the Tigray war, despite the fact that the Ethiopian authorities prevented them from carrying out an open field-based investigation. The investigators have been informed about the Tghat and www.ethiopiatigraywar.com databases.
In this digest, we present an update on the 2022 kremti cropping season in Tigray (section 1), on the status of humanitarian aid (section 2), which is directly linked to the blockade of Tigray (section 3). Attention is given to the dire state of National Parks as there are executions, organised poaching and rapine under the motto that the Parks are ‘TPLF concepts’ (section 4). As usual there is also an overview of recent scientific papers (section 5), opinion pieces (section 6) and media articles (section 7) regarding Tigray.
- Cropping — ክራማትና
After the failed 2021 harvest in Tigray, we may only hope that 2022 will be much better. So far, we are optimistic – see these photos with crop stands around Hagere Selam, by 10 August.
The pictures were taken by Goitom Gebreegziabher of the Tigray Bureau of Agriculture. You may have an overview on crop stands in Tigray, by browsing the photos on Goitom’s twitter account: surroundings of Wukro, Tsa’ida Imba, Dogu’a Tembien, Kilte Awula’ilo, Gulo Makeda, Irob, May K’inetal, Bizet, Sasun, Indabaguna, Tekeze, Werkamba, and Bora Chelena.
At first view, the crop stands seem better than last year. Of course, the harvest itself will not only depend on the current status but also whether fertiliser was available at sowing time, as well as on rains in late August and September.
By and large, crop stands seem to be promising for a good harvest at least for those fields that are in the pictures. Lack of fertiliser may pull down these expectations. Some farmers may still have ploughed late, for lack of oxen. Furthermore, farmers may not have planted optimal crops or varieties for lack of good seeds.
In Goitom’s twitter posts, I discovered the use of the word ክራማትና – kramatna, “our rainy seasons”, with kramat as a plural of kremti, in other words the kremti scene, including the rains and the outlook for the crops and the harvest. With the suffix ና, for “our”, ክራማትና expresses optimism. Thank you!
- Humanitarian aid
Fertilisers are essential for the farmers in the Tigray Region in Ethiopia, to avoid a catastrophic harvest like in 2021. Due to the road blockades all around Tigray (by Ethiopian government, Amhara Region, and Eritrea), fertiliser cannot be transported freely, and the only hope for Tigray was a speedy delivery of fertiliser through international aid convoys – convoys that may only leave for Tigray after overcoming the hurdles set up by the Ethiopian authorities.
According to the latest OCHA report, June saw the highest arrivals of food aid and fuel to Tigray, so far, but only 15% of the cash needed for salaries and logistics in Tigray has been allowed by the Ethiopian authorities.
Our colleagues in the field mention that since the agreement to ceasefire, food aid is arriving in insufficient amounts and in majority stored in Mekele. Very little food aid arrived to the woredas in May and June and not all needy people received even for one round (which is 15 kilo per person) due to lack of fuel to transport it from Mekelle. The situation is similar in almost all woredas and villages; in Western and some woredas of Eastern Tigray, no aid was distributed at all.
The arrival of fertiliser is considered good news. Even if farmers lacked fertiliser at sowing time for most crops, it was still useful and hopefully possible to apply some amount of fertiliser at a vegetative stage (topping up – a few weeks after sowing). And as teff is sown late in the season, fertiliser can also be used for this crop. However, due to late arrival of the fertiliser, and due to fuel shortages, a large part of it has been stored in Mekelle instead of being transported to the villages and the farmers. If not used, they try to store it properly so that it can be used after the rainy season, for instance on irrigated lands.
Both fertiliser and food aid are only delivered to the woreda centre towns, the farmers have to travel 10 to 30 kilometers with their donkeys to come and pick it from the towns. And then travel the same distance back.
Further reading on this topic:
- FewsNet, June 2022: Food aid remains insufficient amid very high levels of hunger and malnutrition
- VOA, 29 July 2022: Children Dying in Ethiopia’s Afar Region Amid Drought and Conflict, Residents Say
- UN News, 8 August 2022: Ethiopia: Loan from UN fund allows FAO to scale up fertilizers for farmers in Tigray
- 15 July Adrian Van de Knap, WFP. Famine averted, 1.1 million people have been fed. But we cannot bring in fuel. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0cm6jtr
- USAID, 1 July 2022: Northern Ethiopia Crisis, Factsheet #8
- Paris Match, 17 July 2022 : Tigré, reportage au coeur d’une guerre ignorée en Ethiopie [in French]
- TV5 Monde, 12 July 2022: Éthiopie : un documentaire montre la réalité de la catastrophe humanitaire au Tigré [in French]
- Tigray blockade and (failing?) diplomacy
As the Ethiopian government received again only extremely polite questions from international partners on the Tigray siege (blockade of banks, telephone, internet, roads, etc.), they were bound for an easy response to credulous diplomats: “The same services have been down in Amhara and Afar regional states. The public service providers have to determine how they can resume the basic services. Assessments on security, safety, and legal aspects must be undertaken before the public enterprises resume the services. These public service providers need time to undertake the assessments and craft regulations on how to resume the services.” (The Reporter, 13 August)
What the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said is totally wrong: the Amhara and Afar regions receive their annual budgets, telephone is working in Kobo, internet is working in Bahir Dar, banks are open in Gondar and people can access their money… Nothing of all that in Tigray. The roads leading to Tigray have been blocked for years prior to 2020. May we anticipate that diplomats will again “buy” the cheap excuses of the Ethiopian government? The blockade and starvation of Tigray is a major war crime è where are the sanctions on the Ethiopian government???
What we see today is that there is not even little hope for negotiated ceasefire or so…
This week, the Ethiopian army has attacked TDF positions around Dedebit. The TDF command accuses Addis of breaching truce. (Source: Rashid Abdi on twitter).
Further reading on this topic:
- Channel4, 12/8/2022: Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: Truce brings little respite
- Martin Plaut, 6 August 2022: The EU-US delegation to Tigray: Statements and analysis
- Al Jazeera, 2 August 2022: EU, US envoys urge Ethiopia to restore services in Tigray
- VOA, 2 August 2022: What Are the Obstacles to Peace Talks in Ethiopia?
- Damilola Adeyera: Symphony of Pains: In War-Hit Tigray, Money Saves No One (Foundation for Investigative Journalism)
- RFI, 31 July 2022: Éthiopie: le nouvel envoyé spécial américain appelle à des progrès dans les pourparlers de paix [in French] (Ethiopia: New US Special Envoy Calls for Progress in Peace Talks)
- Access Now, 27 July 2022: Stranded, suffocated, and in pain: 15 stories from Tigray’s internet siege
- TV5 Monde, 26 July 2022: Au Tigré, le désarroi et la famine (in French and Tigrinya) [In Tigray, disarray and famine], with footage in Abiy Addi – https://twitter.com/JTAtv5monde/status/1552036647797153792
- UMD Media, 21 July 2022: Opposition parties in Tigray to World Bank and EU: “stop supporting Addis Ababa”
- Avvenire, 20 July 2022: Etiopia, il silenzio calato sul Tigrai «sta uccidendo un intero popolo» (in Italian) – English translation: Ethiopia, the silence that fell on Tigray “is killing an entire people”
- CNS, 19 July 2022 : Priest reports that blockade of Tigray harms church’s humanitarian response
- Sudans Post, 17 July 2022: Ethiopia’s TPLF says famine in Tigray not averted
- VOA, 7 July 2022: Tigrayans Not Allowed to Leave Ethiopian IDP Camps
- National parks
One of the reasons that has moved many international scientists to closely work with Tigray in pre-war years was the great attention that was given to environmental conservation. Now, even the emblematic sites are not spared.
On 11 August, VOA Amharic reported about the Kafta Sheraro National Park in occupied Western Tigray. We see intentional destructions, because “it was a TPLF park”. Vehicles have been stolen, infrastructure damaged, wildlife poached and slaughtered. Amhara militia leaders even opened a bush meat restaurant in the town of Adebay, at the edge of the park.
Ethiopian wildlife conservation staff told us about another “anti-park” action: well inside the Amhara region where, what may be called the Guna Park massacre took place, in late August 2021. After the Tigray forces retreated from the area, the Amhara Fano militia rounded up the manager of Mt. Guna Community Conservation Area and several of his employees, all of Amhara ethnicity. They were labelled as TPLF spies and executed in public in Debre Tabor. Also here, the Guna Park had been designated as a “TPLF park”. The killings were not mentioned on the Facebook website for the Guna Community Conservation Area, although it does announce the appointment of a new manager in March 2022.
All this reads as a remake of the Derg-time terror against the Simien National Park management: in November 1976 the EPRP guerrilla, and maybe the TPLF as well, had a military operation in Simien. Ten months later, after Derg controlled the area again, their district governor punished the Park by having eight park guards publicly executed in the Debark marketplace. They were labelled “TPLF sympathisers” because of not engaging in combat with the skilled guerrilla warriors.
- Scientific articles
- Harry Verhoeven and Michael Woldemariam: “Who lost Ethiopia? The unmaking of an African anchor state and U.S. foreign policy
- Kibrom A. Abay, Kibrom Tafere Hirfrfot, Guush Berhane, Chamberlin, J., Mehari H. Abay, Near-Real-Time Welfare and Livelihood Impacts of an Active Civil War : Evidence from Ethiopia (English). Policy Research working paper ; no. WPS 10004 Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.
- Makonye, F., 2022 : The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia’s War with the Tigray Region: History, Causes of War, Humanitarian Crisis and Mitigation Measures to Stem Conflict. Journal of Nation-building & Policy Studies, 6(1): 73-86.
- Tesfaalem Ghebreyohannes, Nyssen, J., Emnet Negash, Hailemariam Meaza, Zbelo Tesfamariam, Frankl, A., Biadgilgn Demissie, Van Schaeybroeck, B., Alem Redda, Annys, S., Fetien Abay, 2022. Challenges and resilience of an indigenous farming system during wartime (Tigray, North Ethiopia). Agronomy for Sustainable Development.
- UPCOMING: American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2022. At least two research teams will present their paper about the use of remote sensing to monitor the impacts of the Tigray war.
- Opinion pieces
- Josep Borrell: Time to stop the forgotten war in Tigray (European Union External Action)
- Catherine Dom, Eloi Ficket, Mehdi Labzaé, René Lefort, and Sabine Planel (22 July 2022): En Ethiopie, une politique de nettoyage ethnique marqué par les atrocités se poursuit à bas bruit dans le Tigré (English version: In Ethiopia, a policy of ethnic cleansing marked by atrocities continues quietly in Tigray)
- Teklehaymanot G. Weldemichel, Lyla Mehta, Mulugeta Gebregziabher, and Meley Mekonen Rannestad Tigrayan farmers need urgent help to face a war-induced famine – Institute of Development Studies, (Institute for Development Studies)
- Gebrehiwot Hadush, Mulu K. Beyene: Re-engaging Ethiopia at the expense of justice won’t bring peace (Ethiopia Insight)
- Åsa Nilsson Söderström: Stoppa mördarpartiets festival i Stockholm ([in Swedish]; Aftonbladet) – Stop the (Eritrean PFDJ) murder party’s festival in Stockholm
- Jan Nyssen: Ethiopian officials admit using a Biafra-like siege to starve Tigray (Ethiopia Insight) (republished in Italian, in Arab, in Spanish)
- Ángel Olaran: Tigray es una cara oscura de la ONU [in Spanish] (Tigray is a dark page of the UN)
- Anthony Shaw: Tigray war: Does either side really want to talk peace?
- Michelle Gavin: Stranded Somali Soldiers Raise Questions About Horn Alliances (Council on Foreign Relations)
- Tom Dannenbaum, Alex De Waal et Daniel Maxwell : La faim, ce crime de guerre encore jamais condamné, en Ukraine et ailleurs (in French, Justice Info)
- Asafa Jalata: ‘Ethiopia’s other conflict’: what’s driving the violence in Oromia? (The Conversation)
- Other media articles
- BBC, 17 August 2022: Tigrayans held in camps returning home
- Addis Standard, 17 August 2022: At least seven casualties reported in Bosat district; residents blame ‘Fano militants’
- UN OCHA Ethiopia, 16 August 2022: the return of thousands of Internally Displaced People to Ab’ala – these are Tigrayans who have been held in horrendous prison camps in Semera for many months
- VOA, 15 August 2022: Ethiopia’s Rights Commission Says It Could Investigate Allegations of Land Distribution in Western Tigray
- DIRE, 12/8/2022: Tigray, l’attivista Gebremedhin: “Sanzionare Addis Abeba” [in Italian]
- AFP, 13/8/2022: Tigray rebels deny ‘direct engagements’ with Ethiopia government
- Amici di Adwa, 12/8/2022: La guerra invisibile raccontata da chi è fuggito [in Italian] (La guerra invisibile raccontata da chi è fuggito)
- NRC, 12/8/2022: Rechter geeft geen toestemming voor Eritrees feest in Rijswijk [in Dutch] (Judge does not give permission for Eritrean party in Rijswijk)
- The Conversation, 11/8/2022: Nowhere to run: the plight of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia
- NRC, 11/8/2022: Vrees voor hate speech en represailles bij Eritrees feest [in Dutch] (Fear of hate speech and reprisals at Eritrean party – The Foundation for Human Rights for Eritreans opposes an event in Rijswijk that would be organized “by the long arm of the dictatorial regime in Eritrea”)
- TG1 TV report, 11 August 2022: Profughi del Tigray in Sudan [in Italian] (Tigrayan refugees in Sudan)
- TG1 TV report, 10 August 2022: Profughi del Tigray in Sudan [in Italian] (Tigrayan refugees in Sudan)
- TMH, 8/8/2022: Mapping the war on Tigray (interview Emnet Negash)
- Bistandsaktuelt, 4 August 2022: Journalister smuglet inn i Tigray, dokumenterte ekstreme forhold [in Norwegian] – Journalists smuggled into Tigray, documented extreme conditions
- UN News, 2 August 2022: UN delegation returns from human rights fact-finding mission in Ethiopia
- ACHPR, 2/8/2022: Africa Rights Body Renews Mandate of Tigray Inquiry Commission
- RFI, 29 July 2022: Conflit en Éthiopie: «J’étais une voix critique à l’intérieur de l’administration», dit Gebremeskel Kassa [in French] (Conflict in Ethiopia: “I was a critical voice inside the administration,” says Gebremeskel Kassa)
- La Croix international, 29 July 2022: Catholic bishop in Tigray calls for an end to “genocide” in Ethiopia
- Politico, 28 July 2022: Russia’s Africa moves force Europe rethink on Ethiopia
- AP, 28/7/2022: Ethiopia says ready for talks with Tigray forces ‘anytime’
- TV5 Monde, 28 July 2022: Ethiopie : les déplacés du Tigré (in French and English) [Ethiopia : the displaced persons in Tigray] https://twitter.com/JTAtv5monde/status/1552759045240590336
- TV5 Monde, 27 July 2022: Ethiopie : avec les prisonniers de guerre de Mekele au Tigré (in French, English and Tigrinya) [Ethiopia : with the prisoners of war at Mekele in Tigray] https://twitter.com/JTAtv5monde/status/1552404918404890627
- TV5 Monde, 26 July 2022: Ethiopie-Erythrée : reportage à Zalambessa, ville frontalière au cœur du conflit (in French and Tigrinya) [Ethiopia-Eritrea: report in Zalambessa, a border town at the heart of the conflict]
- Tghat, 26 July 2022: President of MSF Spain, Ms Paula Gil, Greatly Disappointed by her Ethiopia visit
- Focus on Africa, 21 July 2022: La diaspora del Tigray rompe il silenzio sul genocidio con manifestazioni globali [in Italian] (The Tigray diaspora breaks the silence on the genocide with global demonstrations)
- NPR, 20 July 2022: The Ethiopian government has jailed tens of thousands in a countrywide crackdown
- Seife Gebremeskel: Victory by Tigray-born athletes at World Athletics should put more spotlight on Tigray siege (Addis Standard)
- The Guardian, 29/7/2022: ‘Don’t know if they are alive’: anguish of Tigrayan families cut off by telecom shutdown
- Tghat, 24 July 2022: Gold Medals and Genocide: A Reflection
- 5000 metres world champion Gudaf Tsegay denied of commenting on anything related to Tigray
- Let’s Run, 23 July 2022: Meet the Guy Who Stormed the Track After the Women’s 5,000 at the 2022 Worlds
- AFP, 18 July 2022: Tigray rebels set up team to negotiate with government
- Addis Insight, 18 July 2022: I wish I could see my parents celebrating my victory
- UMD Media, 21 July 2022: Multiple of critiques against Tigray government’s press release on Tigray opposition parties
- Committee to Protect Journalists, 20 July 2022: Tigrayan authorities in Ethiopia detain 5 Tigrai TV journalists
- BBC, 17 July 2022: Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: The beauty queen who risked her life to reach the UK
- Sudan Tribune, 17 July 2022: Tigray rebels say ready to name team for peace talks with Ethiopian gov’t
- VoA, 15 July 2022: Optimism of a More Open Ethiopia Fades, Expelled Journalist Says
- VoA Tigrigna, 11/7/2022: Ethiopian Police Kidnap Wife to Arrest Tigrayan Opposition Leader [in Tigrinya]
- The Globe and Mail, 7 July 2022: Ethiopia’s civil war has doused hopes of prosperity under Abiy Ahmed’s government
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).