In this past week, there has been a grave escalation of political differences between the Ethiopian federal government and the state of Tigray. The conflict which has accompanied our work increasingly in the past two-three years, and which reached a climax with the postponed elections in August during the Corona lockdown, has erupted in the past days.
This week military action has begun on both sides of the conflict, and we have had to postpone Lesley’s planned return to Mehoni next week. Prime Minister Abey Ahmed has declared a state of emergency in the country, and there is currently no way for us to know when we can return. We are grateful that we were able to see and interact live with our community last month, especially as all communications via email and telephone in Tigray have now been blocked. Ethiopians are reporting that the country is ‘at war’ but it is impossible for us or journalists to get exact information with no communication channels open.
Ethiopia’s stability in the last years has played an important role in the Horn of Africa. Destabilization at this time would be a disaster. We hope that the efforts by international bodies to help resolve the differences peacefully will be successful. Rural communities in southern Tigray such as ours have had enough tragedy this year with Covid-19 and plagues of locusts. If Tigray becomes a fully fledged battlefield in the coming weeks, the suffering of the rural Tigray population will be hard to imagine. We are continuing to pack our materials for our next return visit and hoping that this will nevertheless soon be possible.