Survival in the Tigray War: Resilience and Challenges Faced by Ethiopian Citizens


A United Nations investigative panel has urged Ethiopia’s government to put an end to conflict-related human rights breaches on its territory and bring perpetrators to account. The commission has delivered its first report to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Following peace talks mediated by the African Union (AU) in South Africa, officials of the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) agreed to a stop of hostilities on November second.  On the eve of the war’s second anniversary, that deal marked an end to a conflict that began in November 2020, when Nobel Peace Prize winner Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed deployed troops into Tigray’s northern province.

Escalating Humanitarian Crisis and Economic Challenges Amidst Ongoing Conflict in Northern Ethiopia

The two-year armed conflict in northern Ethiopia that began in November 2020 has continued to wreak havoc on civilians. In November, the main fighting parties agreed to a truce. In some regions, particularly Oromia, state security forces and armed groups perpetrated grave violations. Authorities stop internet and telecommunications services occasionally in conflict-affected areas, with Tigray cutting internet and other kinds of communication since June 2021. Ethiopia, formerly home to one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, is floundering as the war in its Tigray area resurfaces, and tired civilians far from the front line beg for peace. Ethiopians are facing the greatest inflation in a decade, currency limitations, and growing debt, despite rumors of significant government investment in the war effort. Parliament apparently approved an additional $1.7 billion defense budget earlier this year.

Multiple Challenges Plague Ethiopia: Food Insecurity, Inflation, and Gender-Based Violence Amidst Humanitarian Crisis

Now a days Ethiopia has been facing multiple problems like food problems, lack of medical assistance, people are searching safe places to stay them out of these hazardous conditions. Furthermore, in May 2022, inflation hit a peak of 37.7%. While inflationary pressures have since subsided to their lowest levels in a year, food prices continue to rise. The drought has also reduced people’s access to food, in part because of the high rate of livestock mortality, making it more difficult for families that rely on agriculture for a living to acquire enough food. Moreover, Gender-based violence (GBV) has also grown when women and girls are forced to go long distances to gather water, while in other circumstances they are frequently left alone while family members seek food or work. According to recent inter-sectoral assessments, there is an increase in mental distress, particularly among children and caregivers, as well as negative survival tactics.

EU’s Crucial Humanitarian Support for Ethiopia: Addressing Conflict, Climate Shocks, and COVID-19 Impacts

The country’s humanitarian situation has deteriorated as a result of the mix of armed conflict, climate shocks, disease outbreaks, and the socioeconomic effects of COVID-19. The European Union has allocated €60.5 million to humanitarian projects in Ethiopia for 2023, which will be supplemented by another €22 million. This takes the overall EU humanitarian financing for conflict and drought-affected populations to €82.5 million. The EU assists vulnerable people in Ethiopia by contributing to: a rapid, multi-sectoral, life-saving humanitarian response to conflict-affected people; vulnerable people affected by natural shocks such as drought, floods, and epidemic outbreaks; and assistance to refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people. The EU supports the provision of (i) protection, (ii) food aid, (iii) safe water, (iv) shelter, (v) basic essential items, (vi) nutritional assistance, (vii) health care, (viii) disease prevention, (iv) logistic support to humanitarian operations, and (v) emergency education for children caught up in humanitarian crises through its humanitarian actions.

European Parliament Delegation Urges Ceasefire and Peace Talks in Ethiopia, while Government Calls for Tigray Ceasefire Agreement

The latest resolution was informed by meetings and visits to Ethiopia and Sudan by a delegation of Members of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee (AFET), as well as joint delegation of Members of the Development (DEVE) and Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) to Ethiopia on September 20-21,2022. Members of parliament, as well as UN special Envoy for the Horn of Africa and civil society groups. They urged a “permanent ceasefire and peace talks under the auspices of the African union.” Members of the DEVE and FEMM delegations met with Ethiopia’s President, member of the Ethiopian government, AU leaders, and UN representatives.

Moreover, The Ethiopian government has urged for a formal Tigray ceasefire agreement to be concluded as soon as possible to allow essential services to resume in the war-torn northern province. A peace agreement struck in November 2022 between Tigrayan forces and the Ethiopian government boosted optimism that the war in northern Ethiopia, one of the world’s worst conflicts in recent years, was finally coming to an end. According to some estimates, the war has cost at least 600,000 lives and left Tigray in ruins, with many Tigrayans struggling to access basic necessities and medical care. Nonetheless, despite the peace deal and some hesitant progress toward implementation, the situation remains difficult, and much stands in the way of long-term peace in the region.

Ethiopia Seeks New Allies as Relations with US and EU Strain, Amid Threats of Sanctions and Human Rights Concerns

With the Ethiopian government’s relationship with the United States and the European Union (EU) at an all-time low, it is seeking new partners to defeat the insurrection fought against it from the mountainous Tigray area. Both the US and the EU have threatened sanctions against the government and its arch-enemy, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), in an attempt to pressure them to cease the nearly year-long battle, which some fear could be as deadly as the civil war that led to Yugoslavia’s disintegration. For months, the Biden administration has threatened to prosecute the Ethiopian government and its allies for alleged human-rights violations, war crimes, and other mass atrocities perpetrated during their year-long conflict with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). As the nationalist group carried out its own retaliatory killings, the warnings grew to include all parties to a conflict that has killed thousands and left nearly one million people in famine-like conditions.

In direct discussions with Ethiopian officials, consultations with like-minded partners, and public statements, Canada has urged all parties to the Ethiopian conflict to “immediately cease hostilities, pursue a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis, uphold human rights, and ensure unhindered humanitarian access and delivery of humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict,” said Grantly Franklin, Global Affairs Canada spokesperson.

Urgent Call for International Support as Over 1.7 million Displaced and Desperate in Ethiopia’s Humanitarian Crisis

Over 1.7 million people have been displaced, according to the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), and hundreds of thousands are in desperate need of assistance. “We echo the Secretary General’s call to the international community: we must act now to save lives and avoid catastrophe,” said António Vitorino, Director General of the International Organization for Migration. “The IOM is committed to finding solutions to reach the most vulnerable people first, but we need greater funding commitments from donors to prevent widespread suffering,” Vitorino added. Increased access to damaged areas has allowed humanitarians to reach some of the most vulnerable people, but hundreds of thousands remain in need.

IOM’s Critical Aid to Displaced People in Tigray, Urgent Need for Education Support Amidst War

Since the violence began in November 2020, IOM has provided water, basic hygiene supplies, shelter, mental health and psycho-social support, and other services to around 500,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Tigray and neighboring regions. Moreover, Ethiopians are also suffering from taking education support because of the war. Tigray has 2,492 government schools, 2,221 primary and 271 secondaries, all of which have been shuttered since March 8, 2020. Tigray has an estimated 1.3 million out-of-school children (1.1 million primary and 200 thousand secondary). According to Ministry of Education needs assessments, 25% of schools are damaged and require restoration or building; 1,174 schools require furniture and equipment; and over 48,500 instructors require psychosocial support. According to MoE estimates, the total recovery cost for education is US$124 million.

In conclusion, while war is not a viable solution, it is crucial to acknowledge the profound suffering endured by millions of people, particularly children who lose their lives and witness the tragedies unfolding before them. The question arises: where can they voice their objections? If the burden of sacrifice is not shared by both parties, their situation will continue to deteriorate. Despite the efforts of international organizations to address these issues, it remains a challenge to ensure that all parties truly listen and respond to their pleas.

Mahmodul Hasan Shesheir
Mahmodul Hasan Shesheir
Research assistant at BRAC James p Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.