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).
- 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 The guns have not silenced, Eritrean troops have not withdrawn, there are no food convoys on the way and no flights with medical supplies.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:
- Kjetil Tronvoll: https://twitter.com/KjetilTronvoll/status/1587924801561440258
- René Lefort: https://twitter.com/rene_renelefort/status/1587907852559175681
- Alan Boswell (ICG): https://twitter.com/alanboswell/status/1588798131897974784
- Tim Vanden Bempt : https://twitter.com/tvbempt/status/1588091430505005057
- Rashid Abdi : https://twitter.com/RAbdiAnalyst/status/1588797762149421056
- Etana H. Dinka : https://twitter.com/ittaanaa_haftee/status/1588975611032535041
- Mehdi Labzaé: Éthiopie, deux ans de guerre [in French] (Ethiopia, two years of war)
- The Brussels Times, 4 november : Tigray at two years: The world’s deadliest war
- Mehari Taddele Maru and David Del Conte: Only Holding All to Account in Ethiopia Will Ensure its Survival
- Webinar : Understanding the Ethiopia-Tigray Peace Process, with Alex de Waal (World Peace Foundation), Susan Stigant (U.S. Institute of Peace) and Joshua Meservey (Heritage Foundation). Moderated by Samuel Gebru (Black Lion Strategies)
- Associated Press, 3 November: Ethiopia asserts government got ’100%′ in Tigray peace deal
- CNN, 3 November: Warring parties have agreed to a truce in Ethiopia’s two-year civil war. Here’s what to know
- RFI, 4 November: En Éthiopie, deux ans d’une guerre sanglante [in French]
- AlJazeera, 3 November: Will the Tigray ceasefire hold? Debate with Kaiderin Tezera (Ethiopian MP and assistant professor of social anthropology, Addis Ababa University), Gebrekirstos Gebreselassie (Chief editor, Tghat.com), and Martin Plaut (Institute of Commonwealth Studies).
- The Economist: A peace deal highlights the pointlessness of Ethiopia’s war
- The East African, 6 November: ‘Brinkmanship’ cited for break in vital Ethiopia peace signature
- Reuters, 4 November: U.N. hopeful it can restart aid into Ethiopia’s Tigray region “in days” – OCHA head
- The Guardian, 5 November: Race against time for sick patients after Ethiopia peace deal
- Associated Press, 7 November: New round of peace talks between Ethiopia, Tigray envoys
- Reuters, 7 November: Ethiopian and Tigray forces launch hotline as new peace talks begin
- 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]: https://twitter.com/amnestyfrance/status/1589910532920078337
- 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”).
- 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:
- Addis Standard, 31 October: Analysis: Tigray’s largest hospital “doomed to collapse soon” due to lack of medical supplies, doctors warn as hospital death rate surpass ten percent
- UN News, 28 October : Northern Ethiopia facing devastating spike in preventable disease: WHO
- 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.
- 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.
- Kerknet, 4 November: Paus te hulp geroepen voor vermiste Eritrese bisschop [in Dutch] (Pope called to the rescue of missing Eritrean bishop)
- Associated Press, 29 October: Witnesses allege Eritrean abuses during Ethiopia peace talks
- Martin Plaut: How Eritrea drove Ethiopia’s war in Tigray
- Habte Hagos: Eritrean Reaction to Ethiopia’s Cessation of Hostilities
- Other media articles and opinion pieces
- Blog of Father Angel / Abba Melaku who is in Wukro, 25 October. Besides his own reflections, Abba Melaku’s diary holds many testimonies about survival in Tigray, but also direct echos about the warfare.
- BBC, 7 November: Ethiopia conflict: Looking for clues in video of forgotten massacre (the Chefa Robit massacre carried out by Ethiopian and Amhara forces)
- Washington Post Editorial Board: One of the world’s deadliest conflicts is reaching a tipping point
- Voice of America, 3 November: “Reparations for Tigray War Victims!” – UN
- ACAPS’ report: Northern Ethiopia: two years into the crisis
- UNOCHA country report Ethiopia: “High displacements continued to be reported from Central, Eastern and Southern zones. Population movement was very fluid during the reporting period with several secondary displacements reported.”
- Mukesh Kapila: Ending a war that has set new records for brutality — the rocky road to peace between Ethiopia and Tigray (Daily Maverick)
- Filsan Abdi: I resigned over war crimes against women and girls in Ethiopia. I want justice (The Guardian) – “When I was a minister, senior officials obfuscated and lied, and tried to omit any mention of rape by the government and Eritrean forces from the official investigation.”
- UN HQ, 31 October: Ethiopia human rights report “paints a very grim picture.”
- Monocle, 26 October: The UN’s former humanitarian chief, Sir Mark Lowcock, explains attempts to end the war in northern Ethiopia.
- Radio 1, 24 October: Vredesgesprekken hopen einde te maken aan burgeroorlog in Ethiopië [in Dutch] (Peace talks hope to end civil war in Ethiopia)
- BBC, 27 October: Adi Daero: Did air attacks hit civilian targets in Tigray?
- UNESCO, 28 September: Two years on and no let-up for children’s education in Tigray
- iNews, 24 October: The biggest war today is not in Ukraine but Tigray, where WWI tactics are causing ‘unbelievable carnage’
- Mark Green: Ukraine Understandably in Focus, But Ethiopia’s Tigray Conflict is World’s Largest (Wilson Center)
- Democracy Now!, 28 October: Amid Ethiopia’s Growing Humanitarian Crisis, Peace Talks Begin Over Devastating Tigray Conflict
- Capital Ethiopia, 30 October: Ethiopia-EU relations (interview Roland Kobia, Ambassador of the European Union to Ethiopia)
- Lyla Mehta & Teklehaymanot G. Weldemichel: Marking the second year of the Tigray war (Institute for Development Studies)
- Die Zeit, 31 October 2022: Die Ängste der Tigray in Kenia wachsen [in German] (The fears of the Tigrayans in Kenya are growing)
- Die Zeit, 31 October 2022: Wie ein Huhn mit einer Schlinge um den Hals – Viele Äthiopierinnen und Äthiopier fliehen vor dem Krieg in ihrer Heimat nach Nairobi im Nachbarland Kenia. Doch auch dort finden sie kein Gefühl der Sicherheit. [in German] (Like a chicken with a noose around its neck – Many Ethiopians are fleeing the war in their homeland to Nairobi in neighbouring Kenya. But even there they find no sense of security.)
- The Reporter (Ethiopia), 29 October 2022: Institutional vacuum leaves IDPs in disarray
- Scientific publications
- Video Online-Presentation by Prof. Wolbert Smidt: „Why old maps of Northeastern Africa are not old: Cartographic collections as a repository of local territorial knowledge and practice“
- In direct relation to the Dataset: Western Tigray in 109 historical and 31 ethno-linguistic maps (1607-2014)
- Jan Nyssen, seminar at Manchester University, Department of Geography: “Mapping war crimes, humanitarian situation, and failing harvests in Tigray (north Ethiopia)”. See the Powerpoint presentation (holding numerous maps, photos and references).
- Zemelak Ayele, Julia Günther: Ethnischer Föderalismus in Äthiopien (ApUz) [in German] (Ethnic federalism in Ethiopia)
- Forthcoming book: Martin Plaut & Sarah Vaughan, 2023. Understanding Ethiopia’s Tigray War. Hurst.
- 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:
- The bi-weekly Ethiopia Cable, you may subscribe at: email@example.com
- The EEPA Daily Situation Report on the Horn of Africa
- Tesfay ASBL – Nouvelles d’Ethiopie / News from Ethiopia
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).