The reasons range from Internet shutdowns to just pure racism.
Ahumanitarian crisis is taking place in northern Ethiopia, but you may not have read about it in the news. In fact, you may have never heard of the Tigray National Regional State, which is currently encircled by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces. Those troops are setting up blockades, burning food silos, and going from village to village committing genocidal massacres and rapes.
If we compare the situation in Tigray to other ongoing armed conflicts, the numbers are startling. Looking at civilian deaths, for example, the war in Ukraine has resulted in less than 3,000 Ukrainian deaths, according to the UN Human Rights Office, while Tigray has seen upward of 500,000, as per estimates by Ghent University.
Ethiopian politics are complex. The nation has five parliamentary parties, 17 other national parties, and 15 other regional parties. In March 2020, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed postponed the general elections set for August to 2021, citing the Covid-19 pandemic. The local Tigrayan government called this an unconstitutional attempt to extend his mandate and held local elections anyway. Abiy cut funding to the region and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front responded by attacking federal command headquarters in the Tigrayan capital of Mekelle, after which Ethiopian and Eritrean forces began their siege.
But the violence is not merely political—it’s also racial. There is long-standing conflict among Ethiopia’s three main ethnic groups—Oromos, Amharas and Tigrayans—as well as a desire among Eritreans to settle an old score with Tigray after decades of border conflict. The resulting ethnic tensions have led to violence that isn’t limited to Tigray. Tigrayans across the country face attacks.