Ethiopian Airstrike Hits Market, Killing 64 People

On Tuesday, June 22nd, an Ethiopian airstrike hit a market in the village of Togoga, killing at least 64 people and injuring at least 180.  According to local witnesses, the bomb hit the market at roughly 1 P.M. local time. Ethiopian military officials claim they were targeting Tigray military personnel, who were commemorating the bombing of 1988 in Hawzen, Tigray.  This attack was perpetrated by Ethiopia’s former communist government and killed hundreds of people.  Following the bombing, the World Health Organization claim victims were denied access to medical treatment.

Military spokesperson Colonel Getnet Adane of the Ethiopian army claims that “[the Ethiopian army] conducted airstrikes, but only on certain targets. It is completely incorrect to claim that it was carried out at a market.” However, a doctor on the scene disputed these claims.  The doctor says  “most of the patients…found were mothers, children, and elderly fathers. There were few young men.”  Another doctor traveling in a Red Cross ambulance trying to reach Togoga on Tuesday insists the ambulance was shot at by Ethiopian soldiers. Then the ambulance ordered the group back to Mekele, unable to help the wounded.  The international community was shocked by the continued escalation.  The United States spokesperson Ned Price said that “we strongly condemn this reprehensible act” and continued by condemning the denial of medical personnel as “heinous and absolutely unacceptable.”

The Tigray Conflict started November 4th, 2020, when the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) was attacked by what they claim to be by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).  Since the onset of violence, civilians have been targeted in numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Every fighting side has been accused of committing horrendous acts, but the most heavily accused groups are the TPLF and Eritrean Defence Forces.  Food has been used as a weapon, starving the people of Tigray in an attempt to diminish their fighting effort.  In June, the UN and international aid groups said there are 350,000 people already living in famine-like conditions, something Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has blatantly denied. For more information, visit the Crisis Index for the Tigray Conflict.

The international community must do more than condone the escalating Tigray Conflict. The ongoing violence has devastated life in Tigray — targeting markets has further exacerbated famine in the region. According to the United States, the Ethiopian human-made famine can affect up to 900,000 people.  Yet, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says, there is “no hunger” in Tigray.  Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s lies have threatened countless lives in Tigray.  Considering that on June 27th, there was footage leaked of Ethiopian soldiers executing unarmed Tigray men.  The horrific massacre showcases the true magnitude of the situation.  But the Ethiopian state continues to blatantly deny any evidence of war crimes.  It is clear that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is not interested in coming to a resolution, only forcing compliance.

Political leaders from all over the world have watched the Tigray Conflict continuously worsen over the last seven months.  Therefore, the international community must enact stage two of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s five-point plan for preventing genocide.  There ought to be UN peacekeepers on the ground to protect civilians.  Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has rejected the notion of international interference since November 2020.  Consequently, it is up to the international community to swiftly negotiate with the Prime Minister to enter Ethiopia because time is of the essence.  Each passing day with no action means more people are dying from conflict, famine, or disease.

The attack on the village of Togoga showcases that Ethiopia is willing to do anything to diminish the Tigray forces, even if it means destroying innocent lives. The future of Tigray depends on the coming weeks, humanitarian aid is desperately required. The international community must do everything they can to prevent anything remotely similar to the 1983-85 Ethiopian famine from occurring once again.