Ethiopia's Tigray region is currently facing an acute humanitarian crisis in which thousands of refugees, internally displaced peoples, and civilians are fighting for their lives and seeking refuge from armed conflict and war that continues to plague the Tigray region Ethiopia. Undoubtedly, the war has brought on numerous health and human rights issues, such as malnutrition, inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene, among other human rights violations, particularly gender-based violence. Unsurprisingly, women and children are disproportionately suffering the consequences stemming from the conflict. In this article's scope, I will analyze the war from the different standpoints of health, human rights, and politics.
Ethiopia is currently experiencing an ongoing armed conflict situation primarily concentrated in the Tigray region. Subsequently, the fighting among regional and governmental armed forces has inflicted pain, suffering, and anguish for thousands of refugees, internally displaced persons, and civilians fighting tirelessly to live their lives in safety with a general sense of normalcy. On the UNICEF Ethiopia country website, nearly 60,000 refugees from Ethiopia fled to neighboring country Sudan, of which over 25,000 of these refugees consist of children. Additionally, since the onset of the conflict, which started in November 2020, nearly 4,000-5,000 Ethiopians crossed into Sudan to escape the dangerous, unsafe environment amid fighting among armed forces. The vast amount of people who've fled to Sudan has rapidly exhausted the demand for humanitarian aid that individuals desperately require. As the demand for humanitarian assistance skyrocketed, the more complicated it became for nonprofit organizations, such as UNICEF, to provide a steady supply of aid to those in need.
To provide rich context behind the Tigray conflict crisis, I thought it would be helpful to incorporate data from the most recent report of the country's 2016 Demographic and Health Survey(EDHS) to illustrate the ubiquity of malnutrition and gender equity issues that have been disproportionately affecting women and children before the onset of the Tigray armed conflict crisis. I have been keeping abreast of news and reading situation analysis reports about the crisis to stay informed. It is genuinely heartbreaking and unsettling that the crisis is occurring. My heart goes out to the women and children who are bearing the tough brunt of this war.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the enforcement of lockdown measures, many children worldwide, primarily from low and middle-income countries, have been at a much greater risk of enduring traditional harmful practices, such as child marriage, female genital mutilation, and so forth. The UNICEF Ethiopia situation report denoted that many child protection issues, such as recruiting children to become armed soldiers, sexual and gender-based violence, abductions, and exploitation, have been made aware to the general public. The traditional harmful practice of female genital mutilation and cutting was heavily concentrated among women between the ages of 15-49 years old in the Tigray region before the conflict. In the 2016 EDHS report, 93% of women in Tigray endured some form of FGM/C before the age of five. Another Ethiopian region with the highest concentration of women between the ages of 15-49 years old who have endured a form of FGM/C before the age of 5 years old is Amhara, which measures around 92% of the female population. These statistics are alarming and unfortunate. The traditional practice needs to be immediately eradicated by all society members; this should not be up for debate! There has been countless research conducted to ascertain the effects of FGM/C, and there has since been a consensus that the practice is medically sound. Without question, FGM/C is an egregious human rights violation that unfairly affects many women and girls worldwide.
To me, a war in any given country is unnecessary, fruitless, and dangerous; it disintegrates the quality of life and jeopardizes people's potential and human capital. A peaceful, just world for all is what every country should continually strive to achieve. Human rights enshrined in various human rights instruments need to be put into action. To realize the goal of peaceful societies, it calls for collaboration among civil society actors from all sectors and ordinary folks. If there are no concrete objectives to serve as a roadmap to achieve peaceful societies' goals, it is empty rhetoric.
Author UNICEF Ethiopia, & Ethiopia, U. (2021, January 01). UNICEF Ethiopia Tigray Situation Report No. 1. Retrieved March 10, 2021, from https://www.unicef.org/ethiopia/reports/unicef-ethiopia-tigray-situation-report-no-1
12 weeks into the CONFLICT, 'deeply TROUBLING' situation for children In Tigray. (2021, March 02). Retrieved March 10, 2021, from https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/12-weeks-conflict-deeply-troubling-situation-children-tigray
Agency, C., & ICF, T. (Eds.). (2017, July). Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey. Retrieved March 10, 2021, from https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/FR328/FR328.pdf