Africa

Recent Attacks in the Ethiopian Tigray Region and its Implications for Peace

Context

Ethiopia is a federation, made up of a federal government and nine member states. However, this social fragmentation is considered a source of conflict due to the political and economic inequality consolidated in the institutional and cultural fabric of the country.

The regional political parties, representing local ethnic groups, are often in opposition to the central government, as in the case of Tigray. The state-region of northern Ethiopia, under the control of the “Front for the Liberation of the Tigrinya People” (TPLF) Party, recently refused to participate in the merger of the various ethnic governments. This was on the basis that they did not lose their autonomy. Such dissensions have ignited armed clashes between the Ethiopian armed forces, and the armed militias of the TPLF. They are the best trained and equipped in the nation.

A few days ago, the Ethiopian air force struck the market of Togoga, a village located in Tigray. The attack caused the death of many civilians and as a result, placed a spotlight on the crisis, underlining its gravity.

Challenges to the peace process

The recent attacks as well as the non-stop heated conflict, affect the already precarious security and peace of the Horn of Africa region. How? By analyzing the conflict, it can be understood that the four main aspects of security are not guaranteed to the Tigray population. These are listed by academic, P.H. Liotta. 

First, human needs such as access to food resources are denied, as militias have looted and destroyed crops, stolen, and killed livestock, thus causing severe famines.

Secondly, is the little respect for human rights. Since the start of the clashes, there have been millions of internally displaced people and thousands of rapes against women. This includes the elderly and young females.

The third aspect concerns the social sector and development. To the security-development nexus, the more secure a country is, the more it has the possibility to improve. This is from an economic, political, and social viewpoint. This is likely due to the fact that the development will lead the state not to fight again. At the moment, Ethiopian authorities’ energies are concentrated mostly on power struggle, rather than the development of infrastructures or the education of the population.

The last point focuses on environmental issues. The upheaval of the ecosystem has threatened the environmental security of Tigray. This is caused both by the actions previously liste, and by the countless fires that have burnt many Tigrinya fields. 

How to act? The ceasefire requests, the access to humanitarian assistance, and the national dialogue. In reality, if they are not accompanied by concrete measures to safeguard the Ethiopian civilian population, they risk being ineffective. 

More active diplomacy is necessary. This includes the opening of negotiation channels between the federal government and the TPLF authorities. This is necessary to gradually and proportionally encourage the use of all means available to interrupt the cycle of violence and reach first a negative peace. Or, in the absence of any act of violence, to reach a positive peace with global well-being.

Conclusion 

Peace and security go hand in hand. However, the situation in Tigray is far from seeing positive implications. Hopefully, the political actions that can restore peace in the Horn of Africa region, will prevail as soon as possible. 

The UN and the EU are studying the heated conflict, with the well-being of the population at heart. With this, the pillars of international law come into play. This includes the right of non-interference and the responsibility to protect. However, this is another story.

 

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