Sadly Ukraine is not the only war …

“A war is raging that has cost more than an estimated 600,000 lives. Its victims have borne witness to shocking human rights abuses and, tragically, civilians have been deliberately targeted. Tens of thousands of women have been raped. It has lasted two years and is happening today, yet the chances are you don’t even know where it is. Though it is far deadlier than the war in Ukraine, the western media have mostly ignored it.

On 4 November 2020, when Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel Peace prize winner, announced a military offensive in the disputed territory of Tigray, it was difficult to imagine how catastrophic it would become. A population of more than 6 million people, under a government blockade, has been pushed towards mass starvation – with young children dying of acute malnutrition. Tigray has become a centre of weaponised rape and an internet blackout that has added to the psychological torture faced by victims, and by families such as mine desperate to hear from our loved ones.”

This is the opening of an important article in today’s “Guardian” newspaper which reminds us of a war that is receiving much less attention than the conflict in Ukraine but has cost more (black) lives.

Eight years ago, I travelled throughout Ethiopia including Tigray. Indeed at one point we came across a celebration of an anniversary important to the people Tigray as I recorded:

“A bit further, on the outskirts of a town called Adigrat, Dawit was surprised when our minibus was halted by streams of men, women and children in separate columns heading for a huge field. We were thrilled that he stopped and let us out to wander among the crowds. It turned out that it was a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the formation of the Tygrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the main force that overthrew the Derg dictatorship and the principal member of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) which has since governed the country.

It was a fabulous occasion. Line after line of people descending to the low field, some of them shuffling in a kind of dance as they chanted in unison, women ululating, clapping and dancing to the beat of large drums, young children shouting out slogans in unison while raising little fists, older men – some in tattered uniforms – shouldering AK-47 rifles and trying to march.”

If you would like to know more about Ethiopia before it was ravished by the current civil war, you can read my account of the trip.


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