Professor Jan Nyssen of Ghent University continues to assemble a devastating indictment against those responsible for the carnage, destitution and suffering in Tigray. UK Gov. pressed again this week to avert this unfolding catastrophe.

Oct 14, 2021 | News

Professor Jan Nyssen of Ghent University continues to assemble a devastating indictment against those responsible for the carnage, destitution and suffering in Tigray. UK Gov. pressed again this week to avert this unfolding catastrophe.

Report from Professor Nyssen

Renewed warfare, ”all out war” seems real again, which will strongly add upon the suffering of the populations in and around Tigray. In this 33rd digest, we address in the first place hunger and starvation in Tigray (section 1). Directly related, we have published version 2.1 of the Tigray Atlas (section 2). The communication blackout makes that receiving news from Tigray remains extremely difficult (section 3); the situation is worst in Western Tigray where gruesome videos and reports of torture and execution continue to emerge (section  4). Ethiopian politicians, including one of the PM’s advisors openly call for genocide (section 5), which sounds louder than the calls for ceasefire and negotiations (section 6). We continue naming the victims and Tigrai TV regularly reports from the locations where massacres have taken place (section 7). Life for Tigrayans is extremely difficult, in the academic world (section 8), but also the daily life of Tigrayans all over Ethiopia (section 9). Psychological stress is also addressed in a new book by Selam Kidane related to Eritrean refugees (section 10). On the diplomatic front there is now a clear statement by the European parliament, while higher UN officials have been expelled from Ethiopia (section 11). We conclude this digest with an overview of other media articles (section 12) and opinion pieces (section 13).

  1. Hunger and starvation

In line with Save The Children in Yemen, or Oxfam for the worldwide situation, we used IPC, USAID or WFP estimates, and population statistics, to calculate, for Tigray, a minimum of 425 hunger deaths per day, and a “conservative maximum” of 1201 per day. That is, averaged, one person dying of starvation per two minutes. With difficulties of access and communication, such extrapolation from the numbers in the IPC phases is the only very approximate method to know the number of starvation victims. Quite a number of impressive media articles have been published over the last month:

  1. Tigray Atlas

A new edition of the Tigray Atlas of the Humanitarian Situation has been published – version 2.1! We acknowledge support by “Every Casualty Counts” and especially thank the intern students for mapping and editing text.

  1. Communication blackout

No internet, telephone, travel: Associated Press correspondent Cara Anna details challenges of reporting on Ethiopia’s Tigray region on BBC World Service (at 32:20).

Many of our readers may have come across the larger Tigrayan media such as Tigray TV, Dimtsi Woyane or TMH, essentially broadcasting TV and YouTube videos. The international observer may not be aware but there is also the pluralistic Radio Wegahta Tigray, essentially broadcasting to the rural areas of Tigray: Radio Wegahta Tigray transmissions are however temporarily interrupted due to lack of funds.

  1. Western Tigray

We have received a forensic report on the recovery of bodies from the Tekeze/Setit river in Sudan, prepared by “SAHAN-Ethiopia”. Very depressive to read it. All victims were tied up. The report provides evidence that some victims had been killed in Humera back in November, kept in a mass grave for months, and then transported and dumped in the river. One of the victims bears a tattoo: ያልፋል, “it will pass soon”…

And, equally depressive, the Italian magazine Panorama, on 30 September published a graphic report on the killings in Humera: Le atrocità commesse dai soldati amhara in Tigray [in Italian – English translation: Atrocities committed by Amhara soldiers in Tigray]

  1. Open calls for genocide

High-level Ethiopian officials Daniel Kibret and Agegnehu Teshager openly called for genocide in the style of the sinister Rwandan Radio des Mille Collines. The style figure oscillating between “TPLF” and “Tigrayans” is a  constant (example: – copy the link to your browser).  Field observers in Amhara Region noted it often from the mouth of intermediary authorities in the surroundings of Gondar and Bahir Dar. Some media articles:

  1. Calls for ceasefire and negotiations
  1. Naming the victims

Tigrai TV revisits locations of massacres and broadcasts about it.

These reports are mostly within a longer broadcast and sometimes tracing back is not easy. For instance, the Grizana massacre was covered but we could not retrace it. Any assistance pointing to archived Tigrai TV videos about the massacres is most welcome.

See also:

  1. In the academic world

Mekelle University Community, 25 September: Call for lifesaving intervention to the international community in order to stop the starvation –

Thomas More University (Belgium): Ethiopian civil war blocks dream of ICE Honours alumnus and space ambassador Tensae

Some information from universities in the Amhara region, from reliable sources. Lecturers of Tigrayan origin are not only put in prison by the Amhara police, and kept at unknown locations for months sometimes. At these universities, Tigrayans are also continuously monitored by the campus police and their phones are tapped. Campus guards lead the police to the residences of Tigrayans. Hence, the management of these universities is complicit to the ethnic prosecution by the government of the Amhara Region.

Tigrayan scholars continue writing up their PhD thesis, dropping tears on every page… Recently, we could congratulate Dr Hadgu Hishe at K.U.Leuven, Belgium. In his thanksword, he broadcast Eyerusalem’s poem: “What do you do”? (

Recently 10 Tigrayan scholars who graduated at various Chinese universities could not travel back to Ethiopia and are stranded in Rwanda. They are looking for scholarships, jobs, etc. If you can assist them by any means, please contact Dr. Mehari Desta Hawku: [email protected]; twitter: @MehariDesta6.

  1. Daily life of Tigrayans in Ethiopia

The country-wide ethnic prosecution of Tigrayans is well illustrated by an event that

happened on 30 September to a displaced Tigrayan woman reduced to begging for herself and her kids on the streets of Addis Ababa. This is how the police treated her:

The police now have complete impunity and are operating a policy of ethnic profiling against Tigrayans in the city. Below are some testimonies among the many.

Another Tigrayan witnesses fled from his home in Hawzien in Tigray taking nothing with him after federal and Eritrean troops moved into the area and were targeting all the young men. Like many others he hid in a cave in the mountains. He stayed there for three days without food or water then walked over 100 km to Mekelle. From there he left for Addis just before the blockade on 28 June. He found work in a restaurant but was arrested at work by police who accused him of terrorism – all Tigrayans in the city are now considered terrorists. He was thrown into jail for 13 days where his hands were tied, and he was left out in the rain without a blanket, which compromised his health. He has now been released but it is increasingly dangerous for anyone with a Tigrayan accent to move freely in the city. He can’t work, he can’t return to Tigray, and, like many others, is trapped in a city that doesn’t want him there.

A Tigrayan woman fled to Addis Ababa to try to escape the war and went to stay with a friend there. She also was recently thrown into jail for no reason other than her ethnicity and was released on bail at a cost of 10,000 ETB (about 190 €). At her release, she noticed that her friend had fled to an unknown place. She is now staying with neighbours she doesn’t really know and she doesn’t feel safe. No one will employ her because of the almost universal hostility to Tigrayans.

Another ethnic Tigrayan was brought up in Addis Ababa and works for the government. He told us that civil servants last month had to donate a months’ salary to the war effort, even though inflation means that prices are extremely high right now. For him this is particularly bitter as he has to contribute to the fight against his own people.

  1. New book by Selam Kidane

Trauma, Collective Trauma and Refugee Trajectories in the Digital Era: Development of the Trauma Recovery Understanding Self-Help Therapy”. (findings mainly from Eritrean refugee communities in multiple locations)

In line with this, investigative journalist Lucy Kassa conveys very well the emotional challenges of covering the Tigray war: “Massacres in the Dark” (Okay Africa)

  1. Diplomacy
    1. European Parliament

On 7 October, the European parliament overwhelmingly voted a resolution on Tigray: MEPs call for sanctions if situation fails to improve by end of month. Only four right-wing extremist MEPs opposed the resolution (one from the Netherlands and three from Belgium ☹ )

  1. Quo vadis, UN?

Seven senior UN staff have been expelled from Ethiopia. This includes the head of the UNHRC, who was leading the investigation on massacres in Tigray. Despite compromising their principles, teaming up with the government-bound EHRC, higher UN officials have still been expelled from Ethiopia. The real targets behind this decision are obviously not the 7 officials, but the Tigrayan victims who need such support more than ever.

Further, an audio was leaked, in which UN staff in Ethiopia openly expressed their support for Abiy Ahmed’s policies; some months ago Addis Ababa-based UN staff were recorded decredibilising the rape victims in Tigray, and IOM officials cooperated in transporting Eritrean refugees back from Addis Ababa to the war zone. Finally, on 11 October, the AFP mentions that UN recalled their Ethiopia migration head.

  1. Related media and opinion articles
  1. Other media articles
  1. Other opinion pieces

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