Horn of Africa: Nobel Peace Prize Winner Accused of Using Hunger as War Weapon in Ethiopia

The World Peace Foundation has reported that the Ethiopian government is using starvation as a weapon of war against the people of the Tigray region of the country. The report that was published on April 6 points out killings of civilians, widespread rape, the expulsion of people from their homes, and attacks on refugees in Tigray as evidence documented by international human rights organizations and the United Nations contributing to destitution and starvation.  

Desolation and grief have taken over residents of the Tigray region in Ethiopia USNews.com

The armed conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region that began in November 2020 has had devastating consequences on the food supplies of a region already rendered volatile by an invasion of desert locusts and the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. 

According to the United Nations, 4.5 million people are in need of food assistance, 2.2 million displaced and tens of thousands of refugees sent fleeing into Sudan. The WPF notes that this is happening thirty years after the world's attention was drawn to the famines that leftover one million people dead in the same region. The war unearths the precarious situation of the drought-prone Horn of Africa and undoes the much hard work that has been put in place to establish a sophisticated food safety net.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 mostly for his role in helping make peace with long-standing belligerent neighbour Eritrea has turned down mediation efforts by the African Union and other international bodies, claiming he wants to unify the country by increasing the federal government’s power and minimizing the autonomy of regional governments.

Numerous rights violations alleged in the Tigray region, Ethiopia (C) Devdiscourse

The IPF report names Eritrea as one of the antagonistic forces committing war crimes by killing, looting, and damaging property in the Tigray Region, although both governments deny Eritrea's involvement. The situation is compounded by strict limitations on humanitarian organizations and media access to the region and an internet blackout

While condemning the use of starvation by Mr. Abiy's government as a crime against humanity, the WPF recommends an immediate cessation of hostilities, restoration of freedom of movement and humanitarian access as well as protecting the 2021 agricultural season as remedies for the conflict which experts fear if ignored could lead to instability in the entire Horn of Africa. A statement released to the BBC by the Ethiopian Embassy in London refutes the claims made by the WPF report, referring to the situation in Tigray as “complex”.