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What you need to know about the conflict in Tigray

  • March 13, 2021
Sam Campbell
Sam Campbell

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Families in the Tigray region of Ethiopia used to enjoy a peaceful life in the countryside surrounded by fields and livestock.

Then … BOOM.

Civil war broke out. The silence exploded with bombs and gunshots. And families ran for their lives as their homes and almost everything else they owned went up in flames.

Here’s a brief overview of what you need to know about the conflict taking place in Tigray:

If you’d like to help people facing this and other crises, click here to make a donation today. Your gift will help provides essentials like emergency food, medical care, and more. And when you give by March 31, your donation will DOUBLE up to $135,000, thanks to a matching gift.

Where is Tigray?

Tigray is located in the northern part of Ethiopia and shares a border with Eritrea, a country that was once part of Ethiopia until it won its independence in 1991. 

What caused the conflict in Tigray?

For many years, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) enjoyed being a major authority within Ethiopia’s political sphere. But the 2018 election changed all that when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was chosen as the single head of the federal government.

The leaders of Tigray did not accept this, so they took matters into their own hands. They held their own regional election last September and created a political divide in the process.

Tensions simmered for weeks. Finally, the opposing parties reached a boiling point. In early November, the TPLF launched an armed siege on an important federal military base. Prime Minister Ahmed responded by sending his military into Tigray to take control of the region’s capital.

The federal government claimed victory on November 28 … yet the fighting continues.

What’s happening now?

The rural landscape of Tigray is hardly recognizable anymore. Fields have become warzones between federal forces and Tigray resistance fighters. Villages are constantly raided. Stores looted. And mass killings have left thousands dead.

In just one weekend, approximately 800 people were massacred in the city of Axum alone. Bodies were left in the streets for days, and many were eaten by hyenas before they could be properly buried.

“We found only bones,” one onlooker said.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no end in sight.

Life has turned upside down for people like Anika, who lost her home and her livestock. Many people have lost their jobs and even their loved ones. Phone lines and other communications are blocked, cutting them off from the outside world.

“Now, with the shortages of food, disruptions in the supply chain, prolonged instability, and communication shutdowns, these families face even greater challenges,” our Ethiopian partner said.

Not only is there a shortage of food, but there is also a shortage of medical care. According to our partners on the ground, many hospitals are closed. Violence and the overwhelming impact of the coronavirus pandemic has overrun most hospitals and clinics.

Ethiopia’s Health Minister, Dr. Liya Tadesse, reported that of “40 hospitals in the region, only 15 have now gone back to giving full service.”

These people are terrified. Not only are they trying to survive the chaos happening all around them … but they’re also suffering from the fallout of the pandemic.

How can you help?

In order to escape the violence, more than 60,000 people in Ethiopia have fled to neighboring countries. Families are scattered, and all they have left are the clothes on their backs.

The families who have remained have little to no food and limited access to medical care. But your gift will be a lifeline for people facing this and other crises around the world.

You will help provide emergency essentials like food, clean water, and medical care plus Bibles and more.

And thanks to a $135,000 matching gift, your donation will DOUBLE to provide help and hope for TWICE as many people in need when you give by March 31.

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