At least, after two years of war, there are now peace talks ongoing in South Africa (section 1). Further, this Digest addresses the Tigray death toll (section 2), and Ireland’s strong stance in international diplomacy (section 3).
There is also the announcement of a webinar “Healthcare in war-torn Tigray” (section 4). Humanitarian air and road access to Tigray was halted due to lack of clearances by the Ethiopian government on 23 August. That was the day before fighting resumed… For the people of Tigray, since the international community appears to resign, only God can protect them. See the powerful video of a nightly group prayer in the holy town of Aksum: “God of peace, don’t leave and don’t deny us!, please help us!” https://twitter.com/Dr_HagosAbrha/status/1582486457792352256
- Peace talks in South Africa
The peace talks between the Ethiopian and Tigray authorities have started in South Africa. To be considered successful, the following should be among the outcomes (as suggested by Rashid Abdi, and further appended by Tim Vanden Bempt):
- Immediate stop to hostilities
- Flow of aid to displaced. Unhindered access for aid agencies
- Restoration of basic services like power, water, banking services
- Negotiated permanent ceasefire
- Accountability, justice and reconciliation
Without the latter, no peace deal will survive as it will end up in another cycle of violence during this generation or the next.
The Ethiopian Reporter notes that Addis Abeba’s appeal for quick aid at the IMF hasn’t received a suitable response there. A positive interpretation is that of a strong stance by the international community – that if the peace negotiations fail to produce results, no financial assistance or debt restructuring will be provided, and economic pressure will increase. In a more negative interpretation, one may also think that Abiy needs money, and the only requirement his lenders presumably asked for was that he agrees to pointless discussions. The deal would then be that Abiy receives his financial assistance or debt restructuring, and the lenders save face.
We rather like to subscribe to the conclusion of the Ethiopia Cable’s editorial (October 13-17, 2022): Obviously, these types of sanctions can be taken by individual countries, without waiting for the EU or the UN to act. In the US, influential senators have proposed a new sanctions bill “against individual actors who are found to undermine attempts to resolve, who profit from, or who provide material support to any entity that is party to the civil war.” Just like in case of international sanctions on apartheid South Africa, which grew from a principled stand taken by the Nordic countries, individual countries should take action against Ethiopia, while lobbying others to do likewise. What can no longer be countenanced are governments throwing up their hands and decrying their lack of influence over the Ethiopian government.
- AP News, 25 October: Ethiopia peace talks have begun on Tigray, South Africa says
- The Guardian, 25 October: Tigray peace talks begin in South Africa but hopes low for halt to fighting
- France24 English, 24 October: Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: Warring sides head to South Africa for peace talks
- ILKHA, 24 October: Tigray delegation arrives in South Africa for peace talks
- AFP, 24 October: Ethiopia rivals gear up for South Africa peace talks
- Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 25 October: Turkish drones are destroying Ethiopia’s promise of peace
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 25 October: Museum Warns of Heightened Risk of Genocide and Mass Atrocities in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region
- Tigray death toll
The discussion at the UN Security Council on 21 October, was deceiving, in the sense that Russia and China vetoed the resolution, that was proposed (for the first time) by the “A3” (Gabon, Ghana, Kenya – the three African countries in the UNSC) as well as Norway. Kenya further challenged Russia and China about why they were contravening an African position. However, it’s interesting to note that the US ambassador to the UN used our estimate of the dead toll from the Tigray war. See her statement’s third paragraph. She doesn’t specifically mention our team as a source, and that is also not important; the main issue is that this 500,000 estimate makes it to the world news. Being a very senior diplomat, Linda Thomas-Greenfield would not be claiming that estimate unless her co-workers gave her the go-ahead that it is reliable and probably correct. Thus, it serves as another further affirmation of the scale of the catastrophe…
From one of our readers, in relation to US Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield’s remarks: “I just wanted to be sure that you and your colleagues are aware of the huge contribution that your work has made and is making to moving the dial on international thinking about Tigray. I know it doesn’t even begin to be enough, and that the diplomatic process is so heartbreakingly bloody awful that it often feels easier just to ignore it, but without the work that you have done things could have been even worse.
I know it has been a devastating few weeks, on top of a devastating two years, for everyone who cares about Tigray but please know that you are having an impact.”
And from another reader: “We must simply continue our advocacy and use every opportunity to keep the eyes of the world on such unimaginable and indescribable man-made suffering.”
And these encouragements must be shared with all our readers and our key informants, who all contribute to informing the world of this major humanitarian catastrophe.
- The Globe and Mail, 22 October 2022: Surge of dehumanizing hate speech points to mounting risk of mass atrocities in northern Ethiopia, experts say
- NRC Handelsblad, 20 October 2022: Geograaf Jan Nyssen: in Tigray vallen honderden hongerdoden per dag [in Dutch] (Geographer Jan Nyssen: Hundreds of starvation deaths a day in Tigray)
- The Washington Post, 21 October: Official document describes scale of abuses in Ethiopia war
- Amnesty International, 24 October: Ethiopia: Fears of fresh atrocities loom in Tigray as conflict intensifies
- Ilya Gridneff: The Threat of Humanitarian Crisis Grows as Ethiopia Ramps Up Tigray War (Foreign Policy)
- PR Newswire, 17 October: Legal Action Worldwide, Pan-African Lawyers Union and Debevoise & Plimpton secure provisional measures relief for Tigrayan victims in landmark human rights case against Ethiopia
- UN OCHA, 24 October: Northern Ethiopia Access Snapshot – September 2022
- Ireland’s strong stance in international diplomacy
When it comes to international diplomacy, the particular strong stance of Ireland in favour of peace and humanitarian aid to Tigray needs to be underlined. Ireland is a country that knows what is famine, and also man-made famine.
Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister Demeke Mekonnen comes with the strongest threats against Ireland, backed up by Abiy Ahmed’s national security adviser Redwan Hussein who also was the Ethiopian ambassador to Ireland, up until 2018. (Redwan was also EPRDF Secretariat Head in 2005).
But Irish historian Ryle Dwyer points out that throughout the 1930s, the president of the Irish National Council, De Valera was well recognized for his anti-imperial speeches, particularly those before the League of Nations, in support of Ethiopia, and against Italy. In a radio broadcast from Dublin in 1935, De Valera hinted that Ireland and Italy may go to war in order to defend Ethiopia in accordance with the League of Nations’ charter. If his suggestion had been taken, either Ireland as a member of the League would have declared war on Italy, or forced it to back down.
Redwan seems even not to have heard about this while he was ambassador in Dublin.
More surprisingly is that we did not hear any voice from within the EU diplomacy, or individual EU countries, strongly taking the defense of Ireland.
More about (absence of) international diplomacy:
- Mulugeta Gebrehiwot: Tigray war: two years on, the AU has failed to broker peace and silence the guns (The Conversation)
- Alex De Waal: Will the US use its leverage now to end the killing in Ethiopia?
- Libération, 19 October: Au Tigré, les succès des forces éthiopiennes font craindre de nouveaux massacres [in French] – Eloi Ficquet, editor-in-chief of “Cahiers d’études africaines”, states that he believes the international community had already resigned itself to Tigray being sacrificed, explaining their unwillingness to strongly intervene in the conflict.
- Upcoming healthcare webinar on 2 November
The People’s Health Movement (PHM) cordially invites you for the webinar “Healthcare in war-torn Tigray: targeted or collaterally attacked?”, organized by the PHM Tigray circle and the thematic PHM War and Conflict, Occupation, Forced Migration circle.
• Dr Yiheyis Maru, CSIRO, Australia
• Dr Hailay Abrha Gesesew, Torrens University, Australia
• Dr Fasika Amdeslasie, Ayder Hospital, Mekele, Tigray
Moderator: Hani Serag
- People’s Health Movement, 22 August 2022: Statement on Health Workers in Tigray
- People’s Health Movement Eastern and Southern Africa call to action on the war against the People of Tigray, Northern Ethiopia+
- CBC, 21 October: A surgeon struggles to care for patients through Ethiopia’s civil war
- Dr. Kibrom Gebreselassie, Director of Ayder Referral Hospital in Mekelle, calls for continued financial support to the Tigray health workers: https://twitter.com/AAneniya/status/1583841276503666690
- NPR World, 25 October: Conflict in Tigray has led to a collapse of its public health system
- Health Professionals Network for Tigray: Emergency Fundraising Campaign for the Healthcare Needs of the People of Tigray
- Other opinion pieces
- International Crisis Group: A Call to Action: Averting Atrocities in Ethiopia’s Tigray War
- The Guardian view on the world’s forgotten conflict: Ethiopia’s devastating war
- Mistir Sew: The battle of narratives around the war in Tigray (Ethiopia Insight)
- Other media items
- BBC, 19 October 2022: Ethiopia civil war: Hyenas scavenge on corpses as Tigray forces retreat (very detailed article)
- AP News, 19 October: UN genocide official: Hate speech is fueling Ethiopia’s war
- BBC, 20 October: Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: Nasa shows how a war zone faded from space
- Meridiano42, 26 October: War on multiple fronts in Ethiopia. Federal army and Eritreans on the offensive in Tigray
- Reuters, 20 October: WHO’s Tedros says narrow window to ‘prevent genocide’ in Ethiopia
- VoA project: Terror in Tigray | The Ethiopian refugee crisis
- Eritrea Hub, 19 October: Empty village streets and hyenas eating the dead: The price of Eritrea’s involvement in the Tigray war
- Al Jazeera, 18 October: Ethiopian army captures several towns in war-torn Tigray
- Meridiano42, 26 October: Bishop Fikremariam Hagos Tsalim arrested in Eritrea
Follow up communication compiled by Em. Prof. Dr. Jan Nyssen.
Jan Nyssen is a 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).