Earlier this week, Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), announced that the Ethiopian National Army launched a ground offensive to push Tigrayan forces out of Amhara. Reuters reports that it was unable to verify that information because the Prime Minister’s office has been mostly unresponsive. Senior officials in Western Ethiopia have confirmed that there was an assault in the Amhara region, but have not disclosed any more facts.
Billene Seyoum, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s office, said that “the government of Ethiopia will continue to counter the TPLF’s destruction, violence, and killings in the Amhara region and elsewhere.” Reuters reports that Amhara’s regional spokesperson tweeted before the attack occurred, predicting that an offensive against Tigrayan forces could be near, due to heavy airstrikes in the region. General Tsadkan Gebretensae, the leading strategist for the Tigrayan force’s Central Command, said “the enemy has been preparing for months, and so have we….the ramifications will be military, political and diplomatic.” New York Times reports that U.N. officials are concerned that the recent attack will deepen the humanitarian crisis in Tigray.
The Ethiopian government has restricted Tigrayan’s access to necessary aid. Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, has been accused by international figures of purposefully trying to starve the people of Tigray to force them to surrender. Tigrayans are being stripped of their human rights, and due to a communications blackout enforced by Prime Minister Ahmed, the world has not been hearing about it.
Prime Minister Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 but has lost most of his support from the international community due to his decisions during the 11-month war between the national government and Tigray. The New York Times reports that the Biden administration has tried to force peace talks by threatening sanctions, and the U.N. has blamed the millions of displaced Tigrayans on the Ethiopian government. Over five million Tigrayans need relief aid and 400,000 are in famine-like conditions. Only 1/10th of the required aid is reaching Tigray due to the government’s blockages. Earlier this month, Ethiopia removed seven senior UN officials and said that they had interfered with internal affairs and diverted aid to Tigrayan rebels. The U.N. vehemently denied this accusation.
Tigray is in the midst of a horrific human rights crisis that should be more of a concern to the international community. It is crucial to inform people about the conflict since it is currently being egregiously unreported. While the U.N. and other international powers need to put pressure on the Ethiopian government, this should not come at the expense of Ethiopian citizens. The sanctions threatened by the U.S. may increase food prices and foreign currency shortages, even though the Biden administration is attempting to help the crisis. The focus needs to be on how best to help people that are suffering.
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