War in Ethiopia's Tigray may have killed 600,000 people

TEHRAN, Jan. 17 (MNA) – The brutal civil war in northern Ethiopia may have killed as many as 600,000 people, according to the African Union’s lead mediator in the peace talks.

“The number of people killed was about 600,000,” former Nigerian president and African Union envoy Olusegun Obasanjo told the Financial Times in an interview.

He recalled that on November 2 last year, the day the peace agreement was signed in Pretoria, Ethiopian officials said, “We have stopped 1,000 deaths every day.”

Fighting broke out in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region in November 2020 after Addis accused Tigrayan fighters of attacking the federal army and spread across the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions.

The US and former Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, played a leading role in the peace talks, but Obasanjo was also an important mediator in the process. The breakthrough followed rapid negotiations between the government of Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the party that controls Tigray.

Tim Vanden Bempt, who is part of a research group investigating civilian atrocities in Tigray at the University of Ghent, said Obasanjo’s 600,000 estimate might be roughly correct. Tigray was blockaded for long periods, making independent analysis of what went on, including how many people died, extremely difficult, say experts.

“Based on reports from the field, the number of dead could be somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 civilian casualties only — this from atrocities, starvation, and lack of healthcare,” Vanden Bempt said. In addition, he said there were unofficial estimates of between 200,000 and 300,000 battlefield deaths, though these could not be accurately verified.

The war in Tigray was marked by waves of violence against civilians, including massacres and rapes, by the armies of Ethiopia and neighbouring Eritrea, as well as Tigrayan fighters, regional forces from Amhara and militias, sucked into the conflict.

Some Ethiopian officials believe the true casualty figure is closer to 80,000 or 100,000, roughly the same number that died in a 1998-2000 border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Death tolls from wars in Africa are notoriously controversial. Some estimates put the number of people who died from all causes, including starvation, during conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1998 and 2008 as high as 5.4mn. But that number has been disputed by academics, some of whom say the true death toll is far lower.

Under the Ethiopian peace deal, the TPLF agreed to disarm and demobilise. On Wednesday, Getachew Reda, a senior member of the TPLF, said: “Tigray has handed over its heavy weapons as part of its commitment to implementing the Pretoria agreement.”


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    • salomon CA 01:38 - 2023/01/22
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      in Tigray where the genicidal war took place, many countries involved & over 1+M have been killed due to man made starvation & lack of medication used strategically as a weapon of war. Many people died of hiv & atrocity.