PM Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea's Afwerki dragged into Tigray genocide
ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea President Isaias Afwerki should take full responsibility for the ongoing mass murder in the Tigray region, a medical doctor working in the war-torn area has suggested, in the middle of the escalating humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa.
Goitom Aregawi, also known as activist Ztseat, who is a Medical Doctor in Mekelle University Hospital and Chair of Seb-Hidri Civil Society, Tigray, took a swipe on the two leaders, accusing them of masterminding the war, which has left thousands of people dead despite denials from Ethiopia.
The war started in November 2020 after Addis Ababa accused Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF] of targeting the ENDF Northern Command. Later, the ENDF was joined by Eritrea troops who have since refused to leave Tigray despite withdrawal calls from international partners.
In an opinion penned by the doctor, a first eyewitness of the war on The Elephant, he noted that many people are starving due to blockades imposed by both Ethiopia and Eritrea troops operating in the separatist region of Ethiopia.
"But most of Tigray remains inaccessible to outsiders and communications are severely restricted, so the vast majority of these crimes remain unknown and undocumented," he says. "As a medical doctor from Tigray who served in the regional capital of Mekelle during the first four months of the genocide before fleeing my country one month ago, I have watched this violence unfolding with my own eyes and I bear both personal and professional witness."
According to him, the mass murder is instigated by Abiy Ahmed, an Oromia who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, and Afwerki, a strongman in the Horn of Africa, who is yet to face competitive elections since 1993. Eritrea has traditionally had a grudge against the Tigray region, which is historical.
The doctor argues that Afwerki and Abiy Ahmed are keen to exterminate the Tigrayan people through starvation, something which could trigger a dire humanitarian crisis in the country. Tigray is found in Northern Ethiopia and borders Eritrea.
"Mass murder is not enough for the masterminds of the atrocities in Tigray, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki," he said. "Their armed forces and allied militias seek to exterminate the Tigrayan people by inducing mass starvation; they are burning crops and seeds, cutting trees, destroying agricultural implements, killing animals, and destroying small dams and irrigation canals, to cripple the agricultural sector."
Reports by UN agencies and Tigray’s interim administration assert that more than 2.3 million people in the region are internally displaced, and 5.2 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. According to UNICEF, the number of severely malnourished children in Tigray has gone up nearly 90 percent in the past week.
Uncounted numbers of people have already died of hunger. But the Ethiopian government, the Eritrean Army, and Amhara forces are determined to block humanitarian efforts, impeding and obstructing access by aid agencies. At least eight aid workers have been killed in the last six months. The coordinated ethnic
US President Joe Biden issued a bold statement on the raging crisis in Ethiopia, warning of escalating violence and the hardening of regional and ethnic divisions, including the “large-scale human rights abuses” and “widespread sexual violence” taking place in Tigray. But he stopped short of calling the appalling atrocities in Tigray by their true name: genocide, Goitom Aregawi noted.
"President Biden and other world leaders have a moral and legal duty to call this evil in Tigray by its true name, genocide, and to identify and prosecute those ultimately responsible for this most heinous of crimes – Abiy Ahmed and Isaias Afwerki. And then to act with ruthless efficiency and determination to end the genocide," he said.
In an alert, the UN sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA, said that it was aware of “gross violations”, including gender-based violence in the war-torn north.
“The situation of women and adolescent girls in Tigray and border areas of Amhara and Afar remains dire”, said UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem. “We see alarming levels of sexual violence, and thousands of women lack access to health and protection services.”
Abiy Ahmed has often denied claims that thousands have been killed in Tigray, arguing that the troops have been targeting TPLF fighters in the country. But on several occasions, he has admitted that Eritrea troops are in the country and even pledged to have them out, a promise he's yet to fulfill according to reports.