A senior official in Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region has said there is a deliberate campaign to prevent the population from farming, which he warned would lead to people dying of hunger.
Abebe Gebrehiwot, the deputy head of Tigray’s interim government, said on local TV that people in charge of law enforcement had been blocking seeds from reaching the region and telling people they were not allowed to farm.
He did not name those doing this but referred to specific areas where it is known that Eritrean soldiers and troops from the Amhara region of Ethiopia are based.
“Efforts to prevent the entry of seeds and efforts to stop farming have no other message than perhaps, ‘Let the people of Tigray perish with starvation,'” the AFP news agency quotes Mr Abebe as telling Tigray TV.
Coming from a senior official appointed by the Ethiopian government this is further evidence that crimes against humanity are being perpetrated – and adds weight to the allegations that Tigrayan civilians are being collectively punished.
The conflict erupted in Tigray on 4 November 2020 when Ethiopia’s government launched an offensive to oust the region’s former ruling party, the TPLF, from power after its fighters captured federal military bases.
Eritrean soldiers have been Tigray backing Ethiopian forces.
The six-month conflict has had a devastating impact on a region that was already food insecure.
According to the UN World Food Programme 5.2 million people are in need of food assistance in Tigray.