The Tigray war crisis again caught global attention after the Director-General of World Health Organization (WHO) – Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a controversial statement alleging brazen racism against inhabitants of Tigray region.
An ethinc Tigrian himself, he called the tigrian crisis “the worst disaster on earth” that needs more attention than the Ukrainian crisis. The region that has been under siege for the last 21 months is witnessing a catastrophe. Around six billion people of the region are still suffering the consequences of the civil war.
Tigray, is a part of the north eastern region of Ethiopia with a population of 70.7 lakh people and an autonomous region managed by TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front). It is a great potential region rich in mineral resources like gold, copper, zinc, silver, iron, lead and nickel. Huge deposits of oil shale have been discovered in the Tigray region that can give a boost to the economy of Ethiopia.
Eritrea and Ethiopia have a past history of enmity that began in 1998 with the former invading Ethiopia. The war lasted till 2000 but a final peace deal was signed only in 2018, when the Abiy Ahmed government took over the reins in Ethiopia.
After becoming the Prime minister he restored a 20 year long territorial dispute with Eritrea for which he was accorded with the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2019.
Soon after, in November 2020 the world witnessed the onset of one of the biggest civil wars between Ethiopia and Tigray, where the federal government of Ethiopia clashed with Tigray Defence forces[TDF]. Eritrea also joined the war on the side of the Ethiopian government.
The civil war witnessed the worst humanitarian crisis of all times. Tigrayan people yearned for even the basic amenities like medicine, electricity, food and telecommunication. They are discriminated against based on their colour and identity. They are not even allowed to speak their regional language – Tigrinya.
The entire Horn of Africa is suffering the consequences. Tigrayans are being executed and forced to flee to neighbouring countries.
Final report of the United Nations Commission of Experts has defined this as an ‘ethnic cleansing’ and a crime against humanity.
The western tigray has been a witness to these abuses and violence for over many years. The Ethiopian federal forces have destroyed and looted their villages. The livestock has been damaged and they were put in detention centres where they were ill-treated by the allied forces.
Hunger, famine and a drought-like situation is engulfing the region of Tigray. The UN has released a statement saying that 1 in 3 children under 5 are the victims of malnourishment. According to UNHCR, the ethnic communities of the region are migrating and seeking refugee in the neighbouring area of Sudan.
Very few countries and organisations are coming forward to provide aid to the war-torn region of Tigray after the Abiy government ordered a humanitarian truce in March 2022. International pressures from the US and European Union have accelerated and they are threatening to impose sanctions to end the year-long conflict between the countries.
The inhabitants of the Tigray region are suffering the same fate of racist discrimination just like the people of Ukraine, Israel, Myanmar and Srilanka. But seldom have they got the world’s attention towards their miseries. “This lack of attention for Tigray could be due to the skin color of the region’s inhabitants”, WHO’s DG Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus observed, referring to the racism.