The Ethiopian-Tiger crisis remains a stain, By Adeoye O. Akinola

A demonstration against the Ethiopian conflict in the Tigray region. Photo credit: AFP.

Why is the world averting its eyes from the plight of Africans, including the ruthless killings in Tigray? Although this should not be a brutal shock, one would have expected more commitments from African leaders, the African Union and other regional agreements, to move forward with the responsibility to protect the hundreds of thousands of innocent lives lost in Ethiopia, thus activating the long-forgotten slogan, “African solutions to African problems”.

On August 19, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), announced that the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia was worse than that in Ukraine. Since Russian President Vladimir Putin attacked Ukraine on February 24, the world community has worked to resolve this violent and complex conflict, which many have seen as a Russian aggression against Ukraine. African Union (AU) leaders have expressed serious concerns and have become very active in trying to resolve the Russian-Ukrainian conflict; for example, AU chairperson President Macky Sall of Senegal paid a visit to Russia, while emissaries from the two warring countries continued to diplomatically cut across Africa.

As of August 14, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had recorded 13,212 civilian casualties in Ukraine (5,514 killed and 7,698 injured). In Tigray, on the other hand, The Globe and Mail in Canada reported in March that between 50,000 and 100,000 people were killed directly, between 150,000 and 200,000 died of starvation and more than 100,000 died because of lack of access to health facilities. Basic amenities such as schools, electrical infrastructure and hospitals have been destroyed. More than two million people have fled their homes and another 2.5 million are in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance in war-affected areas. On top of that, the media also became victims due to their restricted access to the war zone – not thanks to the Ethiopian government.

As predicted at the start of the Russo-Ukrainian war, the conflict in Europe shifted the global community’s attention from conflict situations in Africa to Europe. In the pursuit of North-South relations, Africa continues to attract less attention from world powers. For example, the United States, under President Biden, has allocated about $54 billion in military aid and facilities to Ukraine to support the current hostility, while it has sent only about $488 million for the 18-month-long conflict in Ethiopia. Similarly, the UK has offered an estimated £2.3 billion in military support to Ukraine. This is on top of the £1.5billion in humanitarian and economic aid given to the country since the outbreak of war in February. Between November 2020 and October 2021, the UK has donated around £75million to alleviate suffering in the war-torn area of ​​Africa. While the situation between Russia and Ukraine is different from the war between Ethiopia and Tigray, Europe and the United States have shown less commitment to combating threats to lives in Africa. Furthermore, the war in Europe has also exposed the racialization of European Union (EU) migration governance, with Ukrainian migrants being happily welcomed by EU member states, while African migrants – fleeing conflicts violent – are regularly subjected to inhumane conditions.

Many commentators have committed the sin of overlooking the financial and institutional inability of the AU to live up to its expectations. However, the African Union could have done better in terms of promoting peace and security on the continent – ​​its peace and security architecture has performed less well. The AU’s African Standby Force (ASF) has refused to “stand by” and be sent to conflict areas…

Why is the world averting its eyes from the plight of Africans, including the ruthless killings in Tigray? Although this should not be a brutal shock, one would have expected more commitments from African leaders, the African Union and other regional agreements, to move forward with the responsibility to protect the hundreds of thousands of innocent lives lost in Ethiopia, thus activating the long-forgotten slogan, “African solutions to African problems”. Ironically, the distance between the war zone and AU headquarters is less than 1,000 kilometers.

In addition to this intentional or unintentional negligence on the part of the African Union, other segments of the continent, including the academic community and the mass media, are also guilty. In Africa, the Russian-Ukrainian war received wider coverage in mass media, and the research and think tank community continued to hold hundreds of webinars and in-person engagements on the crisis, while Peace and conflict practitioners in Africa have become so busy. Since November 2020, when the Ethiopian government launched its military operation in Tigray, the headquarters has not received this kind of attention.

Many commentators have committed the sin of overlooking the financial and institutional inability of the AU to live up to its expectations. However, the African Union could have done better in terms of promoting peace and security on the continent – ​​its peace and security architecture has performed less well. The AU’s African Standby Force (ASF) has refused to “stand by” and be sent to conflict areas such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mozambique, where sub-military forces regional operate. ASF’s inability to address the current conflicts in Africa is particularly bizarre because the 14th Extraordinary Assembly to Silence the Gunsheld in December 2020, declared the full operationalization of the ASF and directed the AU Peace and Security Council to use its framework to mandate and authorize its peace support operations (PSOs) .

The Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation (IPATC) will organize a three-day symposium to reflect on the [email protected] in Pretoria from November 2-4. In addition to engaging the performance of the [email protected], the agenda will focus on how to ensure lasting peace and come up with sustainable policy models to improve the AU’s regional approach to development. .

What happened to the AU’s Panel of the Wise or its Continental Early Warning System (CEWS)? It is difficult to pinpoint the main challenge of the warning system. While some have accused African actors of neglecting credible early warning reports of impending outbreaks of conflict or humanitarian crises, others have attributed its struggles to institutional incapacity and the complex flow of information between different structures of the CEWS. Separately, the last term of the Panel of the Wise ended ahead of the 2020 siege of Tigray. urgency to resolve the hostility between the leaders of Tigray and the Ethiopian government.

The Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation (IPATC) will organize a three-day symposium to reflect on the [email protected] in Pretoria from November 2-4. In addition to engaging the performance of the [email protected], the agenda will focus on how to ensure lasting peace and come up with sustainable policy models to improve the AU’s regional approach to development. . Indeed, no price is too high for peace and security. Regional leaders have a responsibility to ensure that “All Lives Matter” in Africa.

Adeoye O. Akinola is Director of Research and Teaching at the Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

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