Issue Brief on “Civil War in Tigray: Worst Humanitarian Crisis”


On August 17, 2022  Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that Ethiopia’s conflict-ridden province of Tigray is the worst humanitarian and man-made disaster on Earth.[1]  For nearly two years, more than 6 million people have been under siege, sealed off from the outside world with no electricity, no banking services, and access for journalists has been restricted, making it difficult to assess the scale of the crisis.[2] This has been due to the civil war that has erupted since November 2020, between the government of Ethiopia and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).[3]  The war started in the fall of 2020 after Tigrayans held their own elections in defiance of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The TPLF, a regional political party, had ruled the country for three decades before Abiy came to power in 2018. When TPLF forces attacked an Ethiopian military base in Tigray, Abiy, who was the Prime Minister, launched a military offensive. During the month of November, thousands of TPLF troops advanced to within 200 miles of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, prompting Abiy to say he would lead government forces from the front line. The rebels, who were pushed back in December, returned to Tigray.

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