Humanitarian situation in Tigray (08 November 2022)

This digest is largely echoing the Pretoria ceasefire agreement (section 1) between the Ethiopian government and TPLF on 2 November. The context is that the Tigray population has been decimated – literally, between 5 and 10% has been killed through direct murder and starvation; a collective punishment organised by Ethiopian, Eritrean and Amhara governments. The survivors in Tigray are exhausted. The agreement comes very late; there is a medieval siege on civilians since two years, without any meaningful international reaction – the genociders get away with it easily. The agreement tends indeed to leave justice and accountability issues to the Ethiopian government.

This digest further addresses the Tigray genocide (section 2), the ongoing warfare (section 3) a seminar held by the Peoples Health Movement on Tigray (section 4), an upcoming round table on The Effects of War on Higher Education in Ethiopia on 22 November (section 5), some news about Eritrea (section 6), an overview of other media pieces (section 7), scientific publications, mostly related to mapping Tigray (section 8), and the slowdown in publication pace of this digest (section 9).

  1. Might is right

Among the reactions to the Pretoria agreement, I would in the first place highlight Alex de Waal on BBC: Ethiopia civil war: Tigray truce a triumph for PM Abiy Ahmed. We had a short discussion with Alex, exploring whether ‘Might is right’ could have been a better title. Indeed, the lesson learned is that force, famine and suppression of information are what counts. Let’s hope at least that people get fed and can return home.

We are now a week after the signature of the agreement. The guns have not silenced, Eritrean troops have not withdrawn, there are no food convoys on the way and no flights with medical supplies. Starvation continues unabated.

The Pretoria paperwork done, the IMF has already announced that they discuss with the Ethiopian authorities to prepare a new fund program.

Might is right, and ethics are for losers; that it the message they try to deliver.

Other articles and twitter threads on the Pretoria agreement:

  1. Five to ten percent of Tigray’s population has been exterminated, and it’s not ready to stop – May we call it a genocide, please?

Colleague Kjetil Tronvoll mentions: Few in the world are so experienced to recognise genocide as Mukesh Kapila.  In his witness statement on the war against Tigray by Eritrea and Ethiopia, he concludes: «The situation in Tigray is nothing less than  a modern genocide.»

See the introductory witness statement  by Professor Mukesh Kapila to the Subcommittee on international Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development of the House of Commons, Parliament of Canada, 28 October 2022.

That day, lawmakers of Canada discussed the humanitarian situation in Tigray and heard testimonies. Watch it HERE. Witnesses start at 09:09:00. The start of this most interesting session was delayed a little, and then interrupted a couple of times due to the presence of hate speecher (white fano) Jeff Pearce who finally imploded. Thanks to Tegaru Canada for alerting the commission on this individual’s track record.

A summary of the meeting was published by The Globe and Mail, 7 November: Recognize genocide in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, experts urge Canadian committee

See also this comprehensive twitter thread by Amnesty International France [in French]:

  1. Ongoing warfare

Besides what is mentioned on social media, here is some additional information that we received from our own contacts on the ground.

There is much shelling on Adigrat by Eritrean artillery. The number of civilian casualties is unknown (“dozens”). Among others, the Catholic Ursuline convent of Adigrat was partly destroyed. People are leaving the town to the surrounding mountains because the shelling has become unbearable.

Adwa: by 7 November, it is not possible to move out of the town;  the roads to Abiy Addi, Aksum and Adigrat are blocked  because of warfare along those roads.  The town  is quiet, but Eritrean soldiers are marauding in the nearby villages; they are going door to door, looting properties and killing civilians (our witness says: “they are like rabid dogs”).

  1. Peoples Health Movement webinar

The PHM webinar on “Health care in war-torn Tigray – 2 November) has been uploaded on the PHM youtube channel. Participants were: Dr Yiheyis Maru (CSIRO, Australia), Dr Hailay Abrha Gesesew (Torrens University, Australia), Dr Fasika Amdeslasie, in direct from Ayder Hospital (Mekelle, Tigray), Dr Altaf Musani (WHO) and Hani Serag (PHM). Watch and share!

Other articles on the catastrophic health situation in Tigray:

  1. Upcoming Round Table on The Effects of War on Higher Education in Ethiopia

The University of Toronto (Canada) organises a round table on The Effects of War on Higher Education in Ethiopia on 22 November (online and in-person). More details, list of guest speakers, and registration form are available from the university’s Department of Historical and Cultural Studies.

  1. News about Eritrea
  • News24, 1 November: UK MP calls for sanctions against Eritrea over involvement in Ethiopia’s Tigray region conflict
  • Newly published: a 40-pages report signed by David (Lord) Alton of Liverpool, titled ‘Eritrea’s 2% Diaspora Tax and its impact in the UK’. The report evidences the continued collection of a 2% Diaspora Tax by Eritrean consular staff in the United Kingdom; speculates that stopping the collection of this Tax will hamper Eritrea’s ability to wage war and act as a spoiler to peace regionally in the Horn of Africa, notably in Tigray, Ethiopia; and highlights the steps other governments have taken to criticise, or halt, the collection of the Tax, making clear recommendations for further action that the British Government could enact today.
  1. Other media articles and opinion pieces
  1. Scientific publications
  1. Publication pace of this Tigray Digest

Since two years now, this digest has been a source of information with a direct audience of around 2300 people; in addition it is regulary reposted on blogs. Yet, I wish to inform that its’ publication pace will be slowed down. Time for some reflection, and write-up. The upcoming digests should be shorter (no more systematic press review) and spaced in time. Readers who appreciate regular press reviews related to Tigray and Ethiopia are referred to:

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).


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