Kevin Sood is Today News Africa foreign policy correspondent based in Riverside, California. Kevin earned his bachelor’s in political science from the University of California and his master’s in political science from California State University. He focuses on the State Department, U.S. government and U.S.-Africa ties.
June 2021, Eritrea forces are unleashing a mass starvation of the Tigray people not seen since the Holodomor by the Soviet Union. UN officials reported Thursday that an estimated 6 million people are at risk of starvation and 350,000 people are already afflicted by famine.
A criterion on how to determine famine comes from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification criteria; a system comprised of a scale of 1-5 to determine the severity of a famine. The data shows that 350,000 people in the Tigray region are facing food insecurity at phase 5 levels, and 1 million additional people are soon to follow.
Eritrean troops in the Tigray region are also reported by locals to have shot and killed livestock, stolen food aid, and even murdered relief workers in the region. The report came from the US embassy back in May when Ethiopian and Eritrean forces had shot and killed an innocent bystander working for the Relief Society of Tigray. The US report which was obtained by Reuters claimed that “According to eyewitnesses, he clearly identified himself as a humanitarian worker and pleaded for his life before he was killed,”
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As the Tigray region is currently in the throes of the worst famine in recent human history, Ahmed’s regime has renewed its efforts to blame the US government for the latest catastrophe. The Ahmed regime has doubled-down on its claim that the recent conflict is due to US backing of the Tigray People’s Liberation Movement (TPLF) for the last 20 years.US support has allegedly emboldened the resistance movement to take more drastic efforts against the Ahmed government throughout the years. Yet, as is common in occurrences such as this, oppressed people usually form resistance groups to fight off oppressive authority. The recent efforts by Eritrea to starve out the Tigray people give credence to the fact that the Tigray are fighting against borderline genocide.
Famine is also not the only scourge enacted by the Ahmed government: rapes, blockades, food-aid thefts, and scotched earth destruction of agriculture and livestock are also common occurrences by Eritrean troops. There is no question that such actions amount to a human’s rights abuse on a global magnitude.
Famines in Tigray came in the wake of confit between TPLF militants and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed; who backed by Eritrean forces, attempted to suppress dissent in the region. Ahmed, promising the conflict would last only a few weeks, has lost control of the situation, and the fighting still rages on. Reports of the conflict are describing something akin to ethnic cleansing.
In the end, the future of Tigray may remain contentions at best until human rights are respected. Until Ethiopian troops stop co-opting with Eritreans to systematically wipe out the Tigrays, there will most likely be no peace in the region. In due time, the international community may have to step in to prevent further human rights abuse, which may spell uncertain times for the region in the years to come.