Joint Letter to Members of International Community to Act Now Against the Genocidal War on Tigray
October 26, 2021
We, the undersigned organizations, write to urge you to help stop the Ethiopian government’s airstrikes in Tigray, resulting in civilian casualties, via concrete actions including: declaring a no fly zone, imposing an arms embargo, implementing sanctions, and officially recognizing genocide. Amidst an escalating famine with hundreds dying of starvation daily, Tigray truly cannot wait, and the international community must take action to protect millions of civilians.
On November 4, 2020, the Ethiopian government and its allies, the Eritrean government, Ethiopia’s Amhara regional government, launched a campaign of massacres, extrajudicial killings, weaponized sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and destruction of critical infrastructure in Tigray. Those who survived the atrocities are unable to receive medical attention due to the government’s blockade and destruction of healthcare facilities. In June, USAID stated over 900,000 people in Tigray were living in famine conditions; 6.8 million now require urgent humanitarian aid. At the same time, the Ethiopian government continues to impose a siege on the region, ignoring all calls to facilitate unrestricted humanitarian access. The man-made famine in Tigray will take millions of lives if it continues unabated.
Renewed Aerial Bombardment
Between October 18 – October 26, the Ethiopian government launched an airstrike campaign against Tigray, escalating the already dire humanitarian crisis. Tigray’s capital of Mekelle, the most populous city in the region, was indiscriminately targeted several times. On October 18th, three children were killed, and dozens more were injured, as one of the airstrikes landed close to a market on market day. The Ethiopian government initially denied the airstrikes only to admit responsibility hours later. Agbe, an area northwest of Mekelle, was also targeted on October 20th. These attacks have severely injured and killed many civilians and have further strained a depleted healthcare system.
In a sharp escalation on October 23rd, a UN humanitarian flight was forced to abort its landing in Mekelle due to government airstrikes. As a result of the federal government’s disregard for the safety of UN staff, the UN has suspended all flights to Tigray. Airstrikes then continued on October 24th and October 26th, and are expected to continue as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration views airstrikes as a method to terrorize Tigrayans and weaken their ability to defend their survival. The detrimental impacts of these airstrikes can only be prevented through concrete actions from the international community.
Despite the inhumane blockade and rapid escalation of hostilities, the international community has not moved beyond reiterating statements of concern. Ethiopian officials are not deterred by warnings of sanctions or global calls for a negotiated ceasefire. Hence, we call on the international community to recognize their inaction as complicity in these glaring war crimes and take decisive action to end the impunity. Sporadic and temporary cessation of violence cannot become ends in themselves. The Ethiopian government must be stopped from committing war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide in Tigray. This must be accompanied by unfettered and sustained humanitarian access throughout Tigray. As organizations advocating for and with the people of Tigray, we are calling on the international community to: