Ethiopia: Oromo Political Prisoners Defence Team – Hamza Borana Pleads Not Guilty: Full Statement He Delivered in Court (22.03.2021)

Your Honours,
I, Hamza Borana, plead not guilty to the charges levelled against me. I am innocent of all the charges and I consider the case political. I am charged with:
(1) Inciting violence between nations and nationalities
(2) Inciting the people against the government
(3) Inciting the Oromo people against the Amhara and Orthodox Christians,
(4) Stating that the Neftegna will not govern us and that the Neftegna system has been killing the Oromo people
(5) That I have stated that people should not carry the federal flag during national holidays in Oromia and agitated for measures to be taken against those found carrying it
(6) That I have stated that Oromo nationalists are being killed and the Oromo people should arm itself and rise up.
Before I enter a plea on these charges, I would like to take a few minutes to tell the court about myself.
This is the first time in my life that I have been accused of a crime and stood before a court to plead to a criminal charge. Unless we work towards building a democratic order, I don’t believe this will be my last. Politically motivated legal proceedings against political foes will continue until we address the central political challenges and practices. If we fail to address our country’s original political sins and continue on this path of manipulation and oppression, innocent citizens will continue to be victims and the oppressor will continue to oppress.
I am here today before this court accused of committing a crime because I wanted to play my part in the struggle against this politics of manipulation and domination.
I was not surprised by the detention and the charges. Before joining this struggle, I knew quite well that there is always a risk of detention, suffering, and being killed like my forefathers. I was not surprised because I joined the struggle after preparing myself to pay the necessary sacrifice. Before becoming a politician, I was forced to flee my country and live-in exile for seven years because I fought for equality and justice. Within those seven years, I founded Radio Daandii Haqaa (RDH) and served as its director and journalist to amplify the voice of my people.
The whole nation and the programs we did and the guests we invited are a testament to the fact that I used the Radio to lead the people’s struggle by peaceful means only, while building bridges between communities, and focusing our energy on the dictatorial system. The dictatorial system was eventually overthrown by the bitter struggle of our people and the sacrifice of more than 5000 youth. When the government changed in April 2018, I was one of those who returned home. Having said that much about myself, I would like to address the accusations:
First, I was accused of inciting violence among nations and nationalities. Before I address the issue, let me provide a quick background about myself. I was born and raised in Borana, Southern Oromia. Borana shares a large border with the Southern Peoples region and I grew up and attended school among multi-ethnic groups. I was shaped by the Gadaa system and values of tolerance and accommodation is an integral part of our culture and way of life. After returning to Ethiopia, I traveled to Gambella for peaceful discussion between the nations and nationalities. We had fruitful discussions with representatives of both sides to establish peaceful relations between the people of Gambella and the Oromo people. I was also invited by both sides to contribute to the peace process between the Afar and Wollo Oromos, which I attended in Batte, Wollo. I also attended a peace conference convened by the leaders of the Oromia and Somali regions as part of the ongoing dialogue to resolve the conflict between the Oromo and Somali people and tried to fulfil my civic duties. Similarly, I attended the Oromia Conference in Ambo by the invitation of the President of the Oromia Regional State and supported the efforts to establish a solid foundation for relations between the Somali and Oromo nations. Finally, in the event of ethnic clashes in the universities, I was able to hold an emergency joint meeting with Amhara Region activists to discuss the steps to be taken to prevent the conflict from spreading to the public.
Second, I am accused of inciting violence between the Oromo, the Orthodox Christians and the government. I do not think it makes sense for religion to be the basis for social and political conflict because I view faith as primarily a private matter. I was born to an Orthodox Christian family. My parents and all my relatives were and still are followers of the Orthodox Christian faith. I learned the Amharic language I speak today at a church. For someone in my position to want to instigate violence against Orthodox Christians or Orthodox churches would mean encouraging violence against my mother, who is today attending this very trial travelling more than 600kms from Borana. She should not have been here to see her son if I were in any way capable of even imagining such a thing. The same goes for my father and my brothers.
Third, with regard to the accusation that I have incited people against the government, I would like to raise two points. As soon as I returned to my country, I was engaged in widespread efforts to encourage people to support agents of reform in government to the point that I was perceived by the public as a member of the ruling party. But as events on the ground shifted and Oromo nationalists began to be arrested and killed and killings become widespread and the transition process went off the rails, I approached leading members of the ruling party and offered my advice. When this failed, I then began to publicly criticise the government’s handling of the situation, and once this too failed, I was forced to join the opposition. There is no doubt that Oromo nationalists have been killed; many human rights reports confirm this, many farmers’ houses have been burnt down. Does anyone deny this? How can anyone who advocates for victims gets detained and made to stand trial while the murderers remain free? Because I am a peace-loving person, I had a 12-day discussion with Abba Gadaas and prominent elders in Borana, in an effort to bring peace to the forces that are sincerely in power and fighting in the name of peace. I was fulfilling my civic duty as a caring citizen.
Next, I would like to raise the issue of the flag: I am basically a citizen who believes in the rule of law, legality, the constitution & constitutionalism. I also believe that the rule of law should be upheld until it is changed or amended. We have a flag that is enshrined in our constitution. Green-yellow-red with a yellow star in the center of the blue circle indicating the equality of nationalities and religions. We also have a law that says where, when, and why we should use this flag. In recent times, we have seen the use of the old Ethiopian flag in different ways and often to incite conflict. As a peace-loving and law-abiding citizen, I have expressed the view that during public holidays only the federal flag should be used and that other symbols that reflect the interests of a single group or provoke conflict should not be allowed, which is well within my constitutional right to free expression. As you know, I am not a government official, I do not have an army to command. I argued that the problematic symbols and insignias should not be carried because remaining silent in the face of an illegal use of the old Ethiopian flag that symbolises ideas contrary to our present constitution would have been a dereliction of my duty. However, my respect for the flag is never in doubt. Lastly, the message I want to convey on this agenda is that I see artists posting the same banner in different ways on music videos and films. For me, this is the illegality that should be condemned. One ethnic group’s view doesn’t represent the rest of Ethiopia and their ideas shouldn’t be imposed on other ethnic groups.
Finally, I was accused of stating that it was the Neftegna who were executing the Oromo people and that the Neftegna will not rule over us. While agreeing with the points made by the second defendant, Bekele Gerba, I will add the following on what Neftegna means for me.
For me, the Neftegna violently displaced my father’s grandfather, Obbo Dhana (Dhaanaa) Roba Gunjo, and his family from the Tulama land and forced him to settle among Gujii Oromo. The Neftegna massacred my mother’s father family in the Dharra District of Salale (North Shoa) and they too similarly fled to Borana. My mother’s father great grandfather Gayo Kumsa, has been uprooted by the evil Neftegna system from the South West of Sheger and forced to flee to Borana. I am the offspring of these displaced families. Yes, this is the system that committed ethnic cleansing on the Oromo people. That is why I am fighting hard to keep this system from coming back. Is it those who support this system or those who opposed it who should be accused? We are forever grateful for the debt of Borana, Guji, Arsi, Bale and Itu-Hubbena (Hararge) Oromo, who reached out and embraced the Tulama Oromo during the displacement of Oromos at the time. I would like to use this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude and respect.
Honourable Court, those of us who returned to our country after the process of democratic transition commenced – former activists, journalists, politicians – many of them chose to turn a blind eye to clear evidence of a slide-back to authoritarianism because they were provided with resources such as land belonging to our farmers, power, and temporary state rents. I felt that the only way I can make a meaningful contribution to the ongoing struggle of my people is by joining a viable opposition party, and I joined the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). My comrades, my organisation and I were seen as an enemy because the ruling party know of the acceptance and support we have among our people and decided to lock us up because they knew they cannot win an election against us. A clear evidence of this is the current situation where the ruling party has jailed us all and removed our party from the election so that the ruling party will run for the election on its own. Therefore, Honorable court, I want to express with great respect, that I am innocent of all charges and I am here because I am falsely accused by the government, so that they can win the election and impose their views on us all.
It was Haacaaluu. They killed him and they prevented us from attending his funeral and properly mourn our loss. It was while I and my friends were on our way to the burial of our hero that we were arrested from the street and jailed. We have not committed any crime.
Thank you.
March 22, 2021
Hamza Borana
Finfinne, Oromia, Ethiopia

Ethiopia: Oromo Political Prisoners Defence Team – The leaders of Oromo who are on the diet to listen to elders and elders who have ears will decide to stop tomorrow on the 40th day (07.03.2021)

One of the way of peace food is the way of struggle. Especially the people who are arrested by dictatorships are one of the biggest influences of their protest and imprisonment of their government. Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, Hamza Borana and other leaders have been doing in the history of Empire and in the peace struggle like Africa. This is the one that proved how much Oromo can deal with peace and its purpose again.
In short, the warning of the food is being made for the struggle is below:
1. The long food that doesn’t have competition in Ethiopia is the way of struggle that made the citizens of this country learn well before. This is a lesson to all government officials and people who have been providing horrible criticism.
The struggle of peace in this world is known as long as it is explained:
1. Irom Chanu – 10 years old, Indian strong woman
2. Bhagat Singh – Day 116, Indian citizen
3. Bobby Sands – 66 days, Irish citizen
4. Solange Fernex – 40 days, French born
5. Jawar Mohammed – 40 days, Oromia / Ethiopia
. Bekele Gerba – 40 days, Oromia / Ethiopia
Hamza Borana (Adane) – 40 days, Oromia / Ethiopia
6. Cesar Chaves – 36 days, Mexican citizen
2. In the situation of politics and war in northern Ethiopia, this world has made it difficult for me to get media clothing, when the cloth is only one side, the world is focused on Oromo’s politics.
3) The international and national human rights organizations and government of the world have impacted many people’s rights due to this war. Political prisoners should be released and they are also presenting a strong message to the government.
4) by attracting international medias, the issue of Oromo has made a decision to get political superiority. Even if Oromo leaders don’t answer their question, they have won by politics.
5) How much human rights criticism is being ruled by Ethiopian government, especially the order of the court to be banned from trial, is exposed what is on the body.
In general, the question of Oromo leaders should be answered when the time has passed because it is time to look at the strategy of struggle. The question of political prisoners should be released and the office of political parties should not be answered because of this reason our parties have decided to be pushed out of this election. The aim of eating food is not to lead the way of peace, but to kill oneself in this way, so the elders and elders have decided to go again and again and give great respect and respect after following the 40th day of food. Oromo will continue making history, the day the rule of law will come to be respected.

Ethiopia: Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) – HRLHA Strongly Urges the Government of Ethiopia to Resolve the Prisoners’ Demand Soon! (17.02.2021)

Ethiopia: Oromo Political Prisoners Defence Team – Bekele Gerba detained in Torhayloch Hospital (16.02.2021)

After Mr. Bekele Gerba’s lawyers submitted a petition yesterday, the court gave an order for the 2nd time to allow Mr. Bekele to get a medical treatment from a private clinic of his choice. Attached is the court document that shows the court honored his request to get treatment from a private clinic.
Accordingly, Mr. Bekele was supposed to go to Landmark Hospital today in Addis Ababa. The hospital was waiting for Mr. Bekele for more than 2 hours. However, the prison administration said they were given an instruction from a superior order to take Mr. Bekele Gerba to armed forces hospital called Torhayloch.
On their way to the hospital, Mr. Bekele’s private doctors phones were confiscated.
We are getting a report that the Oromo political prisoners private doctors who accompanied Mr. Bekele Gerba to the hospital have been detained in Torhayloch Hospital.
Mr. Bekele’s life is in great danger!

Ethiopia: Ethiopian Multinational Federalists Support Forces (EMFSF) – On the Deteriorating Political Situation in Ethiopia (13.02.2021)

Ethiopa: A “Superior Order” restricts medical and hospital treatment for political prisoners

Today on the 13th February 2021. After my calculation the Oromo Political Prisoners are on their 17th day of hunger strike in Kaliti Prison. There has already been reported of several of the Oromo Political Leaders in critical conditions and very weak as well. That is not shocking, considering how long this hunger strike has lasted and the body can only carry so long before it gives way.

The Oromo Political Prisoners Defence Team have followed the conditions and the treatment the Oromo political prisoners have gotten. They are working on their release, but the state is keeping them behind bars.

They stated this yesterday: “Jails and prisons are full of Oromos, more than any other group in the country. Currently there are more than 50,000 Oromo political prisoners in Ethiopia. In Kaliti alone there are more than 5,000 Oromo political prisoners, constituting 90% of the nation’s entire prisoners” (Oromo Political Prisoners Defence Team, 12.02.2021).

These numbers should shock anyone and be a warning about what the state does to dissidents in the region. When they can arrest and detain such vast numbers. At this scale there is injustice and impunity towards the political active who is not part of the Prosperity Party. These are the ones challenging PP in Oromia and therefore behind bars.

What is even worse is the “Superior Orders” which is blocking their freedom, liberty and ability assemble. The state is also now restricting medical treatment… that should send shock-waves and outrage, as that is a dire need after days of hunger strike.

Medical Update From Kaliti Prison:

Jawar Mohammed et al. doctors have announced today on Oromia Media Network (OMN) that they have halted providing health services to the political prisoners. They explained their decision was because they were not able to treat the prisoners at a private hospital as needed. Per court order, they were given permission to see their private doctor and hospital, yet the prison administration has not honored the court order. The prison administration said a superior order has restricted Mr. Bekele Gerba today from receiving urgent treatment at the hospital of his option. Since the prison administration is not complying with the court order, Jawar Mohammed et al. told their doctors not to come anymore. Dr. Ilili Jemal, one of the private doctors of the prisoners told OMN that from today onwards they are obliged to stop rendering health services to the political prisoners” (Oromo Political Prisoners Defence Team, 12.02.2021).

This shows how far the Federal Government goes. They don’t value the lives of the political prisoners. The enemies of the state. The ones charged and behind bars. Just because they are dissidents and in opposition to the central government in Addis Ababa. That is all it takes and your rights as a citizen is revoked over night. This is why these ones are suffering and not getting the health care they need.

The state even uses a “superior order” to restrict and block doctors from helping the prisoners. That is breaches of human rights and its inhumane. This shouldn’t happen to anyone, but the Prosperity Party clearly have no issues to violate people for their political gains. Peace.

Ethiopia: UNICEF – Children in Tigray in acute need of protection and assistance (12.02.2021)

Home to about 170,000 residents, Shire now hosts at least 52,000 internally displaced people (IDPs), and more arrived on each day of the mission.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, February 12, 2021 – As more supplies and emergency personnel reach crisis-affected people in Tigray, an incomplete but troubling picture is emerging of severe and ongoing harm to children.

Between February 4 and 7, a UNICEF team accompanied by the Regional Health Bureau Head traveled from Mekelle to the town of Shire in Central Tigray, with six trucks filled with 122 tons of emergency supplies. This was the first UN mission to Shire since the conflict erupted on 4 November 2020.

Home to about 170,000 residents, Shire now hosts at least 52,000 internally displaced people (IDPs), and more arrived on each day of the mission. There was no drinking water, as the town’s water treatment plant is not functioning, so UNICEF and ICRC are trucking water to residents and IDPs. Many IDPs are sheltering at schools, none of which are operational. Conditions at the displacement sites are dire – the few toilets are broken, there are no showers, and there is very little safe water. Many families were separated as they fled, and there were many unaccompanied or separated children among the IDPs.

Many families reported deep psychosocial distress and said they did not feel it was safe to return home, speaking of a persistent and pervasive fear of present and future harm.

The hospital in Shire was partly operational. Two out of four health centers were providing outpatient and maternal services, and one health facility has resumed some vaccinations. Staff have received partial payments of their salaries. Outside the town center, only one of seven rural health facilities assessed was functional; the others had been damaged or looted and staff had fled. Immunizations ground to a halt three months ago and the town’s entire stock of vaccines was damaged due to power cuts. Electricity is restored, but the city still experiences frequent power cuts.

The IDPs said their most urgent need was for food. One assessment conducted by partners found the prevalence of severe acute malnutrition – which is potentially life threatening, especially when combined with diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, or measles – at 2.1 per cent. This is above the World Health Organization’s emergency threshold. The very real risk of disease outbreak, coupled with poor access to water, sanitation, hygiene and health services, rising food insecurity and inflation in food prices, poses grave threats for malnourished children.

The mobile network, internet and banking services were still not operational.

UNICEF has dispatched 655MT of supplies including emergency health kits, therapeutic food and high energy biscuits, and personal protective equipment, and more supplies are en route. As of the end of January, other areas of UNICEF’s emergency response in cooperation with government and other partners in Tigray and neighbouring regions included:

  • Screening over 465,000 children below five years old for malnutrition, and providing lifesaving treatment to over 2,750 of children found to be severely malnourished;
  • Reaching over 137,000 people including refugees, displaced persons and host communities with water supplies and services;
  • Providing over 5,400 adolescent girls and women with dignity kits.

The partial picture emerging of the impact the crisis in Tigray has had on children – and the systems and services they rely on – make clear that children are in acute need of protection and assistance. Crucially, the humanitarian community still needs to get beyond major cities and towns into the rural areas, where most of the population live, in order to have a true picture of needs.

Above all, children must be protected from harm.

Ethiopia: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Permanent Mission to the United Nations – Disinformation campaign against Ethiopia Vs the Reality (12.02.2021)

Opinion: Abiy’s dishonest tale of “Toward a Peaceful Order in the Horn of Africa”

Today, Prime Minister Ahmed Ali Abiy published yet another article defending the Law Enforcement Operation. Just to prove his statements and his views on the matter. As his government and his armies are getting critic and lacklustre behaviour in concern to atrocities and human rights violations there. They are willing to use all means to get his way and that is why his so defensive.

PM Abiy have written before about this and is staunchly defending, as he should, because this is his and he sent the army to Tigray in the early of November 2020. Now we are mid-February and the reports from the region is dire. The amount of Internally Displaced Persons are up to over 2 million and over 60,000 civilians have fled to seek refuge in Sudan. There is unverified reports about casualties, but the only number dropped internationally is about 50,000 people. While there is lack of humanitarian support, media black-out and a dire crisis towards the ones living there. This is self-made crisis, which Abiy stands responsible for. No matter how hard he vilify the enemy. As TPLF have a history and that should be challenged. Nevertheless, today’s crime and atrocities is done on his watch.

Today he wrote: No government can tolerate its soldiers and innocent civilians being ambushed and killed in their dozens, as happened at the hands of the TPLF last autumn. My primary duty as prime minister and commander in chief of the national armed forces, after all, is to protect Ethiopia and its people from internal and external enemies” (Abiy, 11.02.2021).

It is very rich of an government who has deliberately killed civilians demonstrating in Oromia over the years. A government who has without mercy acted with fatal force in Ogaden. Is telling that the TPLF was the final straw. When the same party and state has acted like this and let massacres happening on their watch. It seems that he picked an enemy he wants to annihilate and get rid off without proper procedure, but through combat. That is how it seems to outsider like me. As he didn’t use a similar operation elsewhere. Only towards the party that didn’t want to consolidate into the Prosperity Party from the previous coalition. Very striking right?

Now come the puff piece words: “Our operations in Tigray were designed to restore peace and order quickly. In this, we succeeded, but the suffering and deaths that occurred despite our best efforts have caused much distress for me personally as well as for all peace-loving people here and abroad. Ending the suffering in Tigray and around the country is now my highest priority. This is why I am calling for the United Nations and international relief agencies to work with my government so that we can, together, deliver effective relief to all in Tigray who need it” (Abiy, 11.02.2021).

You bring in and prepare mechanical forces ahead of it. You order forces into Eritrean soil to attack on two sides of the regions. While claiming the TPLF was first to start the war. Also, the promise of quick and swift action is clearly not being served. As the conflict is continuing and there is persistent battles across the Region. The use of Eritrean Army and Amhara Para-Military (Fano) also shows are more dire need to revenge and avenge the fallen of the past. Not only restore “law and order” as it seems more like a policing operation. While this has been open warfare 4 months and the Prime Minister proclaimed victory already on the 29th November 2020. So, his three months later and not yet finalized it. As his troops and allies are still there violating the peace.

Just yesterday the International Red Cross said 80% of the public or population in Tigray wasn’t getting their needs met and humanitarian operations are not still working. There been a few small signs of progress, while there been destruction of two refugee camps and huge amount of devastation in the region. Which we cannot assess or understand the total damage done by the conflict. So, his wording is nice, but the reality is so much more brutal.

He continues: “My government is also prepared to assist community leaders in Tigray who are dedicated to peace. Indeed, we are already reaching out to them. The international community understood what the TPLF was. Many had condemned its ethnic-based violence. Sadly, some were ready to turn a blind eye to TPLF torture, disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. Without the TPLF, it was said, Ethiopia risked fragmenting along ethnic lines, like Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Ethiopia’s collapse, the argument went, would usher in chaos across the Horn of Africa. Common sense tells us that a regime based on ethnic division cannot last; but, as the saying goes, common sense is not always common. Fortunately, human societies can tolerate racial, ethnic, and religious violence for only so long” (Abiy, 11.02.2021).

When he says this… we are supposed to forget how he and the House of Federation made the September 2020 election deemed illegal. How the Federal Government ceased funding to it and also stopped also movement and aid towards Tigray before the warfare last year. So, it is unique that he wants to work with community leaders. When the elected ones are deemed unfit and gone to war at. Also, installed his own interim local regional government in its stead. It seems like it is cool with the violence he supporters and orders, but all the TPLF was directly bad. Yes, the ills of the past that TPLF should be answered for, but this isn’t the way out. Not if you want legitimacy over it as well.

What is also striking, we are supposed to forget the violence, extra-judicial killings of his government in other regions, which is prevalent in Benishangul-Gumuz, Ogadaen, Oromia and in the Afar region. It is not like Tigray is a lonely incident and the only place it is happening. So, his sense isn’t that common, when all those other deaths are water under he bridge. He accepts that and thrives on the bloodshed elsewhere, but only went to war in Tigray. That seems insincere here and that there is most likely alternative motives to do so.

He also states: The 2018 vote moved the country in a new and inclusive direction. The political party I now lead is the first in Ethiopia that is not based on race, religion, or ethnicity” (Abiy, 11.02.2021). Well, here the Prime Minister is lying, as we are supposed to forget the CUD who became the Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), which was formed in 2008. This political party had members from Oromos, Amharas, Tigrayans, Somalis, and Afaris. So, UDJ was before the PP and this PM. His a decade late to this party and his coalition EPRDF have arrested and been targeted. Therefore, him speaking of inclusivity. Maybe, he should allow this Party to co-exists if he believes in this? They didn’t allow their leaders to be candidate in the previous election in 2015? Will that change or is all the political prisoners of Oromia a sign of what’s ahead of the Elections in 2021?

That’s why its arrogant that you are saying this: “An Ethiopia free of the TPLF will champion peace and inclusive development. Internally, our “New Ethiopia” will be based on equality among all of our constituent groups, including the suffering people of Tigray. Externally, we will act in a way that recognises that our national interests are inseparably linked to those of our neighbours” (Abiy, 11.02.2021).

I do not believe this statement from the Prime Minister. There is enough lacking development and freedom in the Republic. If there was more peace and justice in Oromia. We could maybe differ, but when people are going-on hunger-strike for close two weeks to get free from prompt-up charges. So, the “New Ethiopia” is more of the “old Ethiopia” with a new public relations team and a warlord as head of state.

He finish with: “Only an Ethiopia at peace, with a government bound by humane norms of conduct, can play a constructive role across the Horn of Africa and beyond. We are determined to work with our neighbours and the international community to deliver on this promise” (Abiy, 11.02.2021).

Yes, everyone in their right mind wishes that Ethiopia is at peace. However, as long as the government is violating citizen’s rights, blocking them from assembling and participating freely. There will be no true peace in the Republic. It will be a fake peace, as the opposition are targeted and behind bars. If not they are blocked from participating in an election. So, that the Prosperity Party can reign supreme Post-2021.

I know that Abiy will work with Asmara, Djibouti, Nairobi and Mogadishu, but creating enemies in Khartoum and Mekelle. That is because of the actions of the government of Abiy. He is using force and armed invasions there. This is why it will not be peace, but war. A war that he has started and his prolonging.

Abiy isn’t a man of peace, but of war. His word may be of peace, but his actions is of war. That is why his a warlord. Peace.

Ethiopia: After visiting Tigray, IFRC President calls for increased humanitarian response (10.02.2021)

Addis Ababa/Nairobi/Geneva, 10 February 2021 – The President of the world’s largest humanitarian network has ended a visit to Ethiopia’s Mekele city in Tigray region with a plea for increased humanitarian response to better meet the needs of people affected by recent fighting.

Speaking at the end of his five day visit to Ethiopia, Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said:

I am very concerned about the conditions that I saw during my visit, including people internally displaced by the fighting, especially children, their mothers and the elderly. It was clear to me that people in Tigray need much more support than they are currently receiving.

While there have been positive announcements by a small number of aid organizations in recent days in this regard, it is my hope that more aid can begin to arrive consistently. We need to scale up humanitarian operations. We need to do much more to bring help to those who desperately need it.”

In particular, President Rocca raised concerns about the impact of the fighting on medical services, noting that hospitals he visited were lacking even basic medical supplies. He also shared serious concerns relayed by local health officials about rising levels of serious malnutrition.

An assessment by the Ethiopian Red Cross Society, found that more than 2.6 million people in Tigray and the adjacent regions of Amhara, Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz and SNNPR need humanitarian assistance. According to the Ethiopian Red Cross, primary needs among affected people in Tigray include food and basic relief items, water and sanitation, medical supplies and technical assistance for mobile clinics.

Mr Rocca also spoke of the compounding impact that the Tigray crisis has had on other vulnerabilities in Ethiopia, as well as in neighbouring countries. By the end of January 2021, an estimated 200,000 people had been internally displaced in Ethiopia alongside 60,000 people who have fled into Sudan. In addition, there are at least 230 Ethiopian refugees in Djibouti.

Mr Rocca further mentioned the heavy humanitarian caseload that was already confronting Ethiopia and surrounding countries, and the subsequent need for coordinated and comprehensive action by aid organizations:

The Horn of Africa is facing chronic multiple crises, including widespread and severe food insecurity, and massive locust swarms that have contributed to further crop losses.

The region is also grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic which, among other impacts, has led to the closure of schools. More than 6.4 million children are now without school meals and this has worsened malnutrition considerably.”

In response to the situation in Ethiopia and surrounding countries, the IFRC, the Ethiopian Red Cross, the Sudanese Red Crescent and the Red Crescent Society of Djibouti are jointly appealing for 27 million Swiss francs. This funding will allow Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff to assist 660,000 people, including the Ethiopians who are internally displaced and those who have fled into Sudan and Djibouti.

The operation will focus on supporting families to maintain their livelihoods and meet basic needs, the provision of clean water and improved sanitation facilities, the delivery of health and psychosocial support services, and efforts to strengthen local Red Cross and Red Crescent capacities to prepare for and respond to future emergencies.