“At this stage, there is simply very little left, even if you have money,” according to an internal assessment by one humanitarian group, seen by The Associated Press. The assessment, based on a colleague who managed to get out, said people “will stay where they are, there is no place in Tigray where the situation is any different and they cannot cross over into the other regions of Ethiopia because of fear of what would be done to them.”
They expect to be killed, the assessment said.
For more than a week, the United Nations and other aid organizations have been warning of disaster. Long lines formed outside shops within days of the Nov. 4 announcement by Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed that a military offensive had begun in response to an attack by Tigray regional forces on a military base.
Trucks laden with food, fuel, and medical supplies have been stuck outside the region’s borders. Banks in Tigray were closed for days, cutting off humanitarian cash transfers to some 1 million people. And even before the fighting, a locust outbreak had been destroying crops.
Over 27,000 Ethiopians have fled into neighboring Sudan, burdening villages that have been praised for their generosity, though they have little to give.
But many inside Tigray can’t or won’t leave, frightened by the threat of ethnic violence. Abiy’s office on Wednesday tried to ease those fears, saying in a statement that its “law enforcement operation” against a Tigray regional leadership it regards as illegal is “primarily” targeting members of that ruling circle.
“The people of Tigray will be the first to benefit” from the operation, the statement said, as senior government officials vow its completion within days.
But Ethiopia’s federal government has been promising a rapid end to the fighting from nearly the start. And humanitarian groups, experts and even the United States government are showing signs of desperation.