Friday, November 13, 2020

Interact Climate Change Impact: Refugees. Ethiopia Risks Becoming the World’s Next Refugee Crisis




By Colm Quinn

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Amnesty International reports a massacre in Tigray, at least 76 people die in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya.

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Ethiopia War Risks Becoming the World’s Next Refugee Crisis       

Little more than a week has gone by since Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced a “military confrontation” in the country’s northern Tigray region and the death toll is likely already in the hundreds. All communication lines, including internet, have been cut in the region, making it difficult for foreign observers to understand what is happening on the ground.

Human rights group Amnesty International has made one of the first attempts to shed light on conditions in Tigray when it reported the details of a mass killing on the scale of “scores, and likely hundreds.”

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa confirmed “the massacre of a very large number of civilians, who appear to have been day labourers in no way involved in the ongoing military offensive.” Amnesty has not made a judgement on which group was responsible for the killings, although they cite eyewitness accounts placing the blame on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the ruling party in Tigray and up until Abiy’s ascent, the dominant party in Ethiopia’s government.

A humanitarian crisis. Faced with such violence, alongside the threat of airstrikes from Ethiopia’s military, a refugee crisis is beginning to take shape. Neighboring Sudan has taken in 11,000 refugees so far, while the United Nations has warned that roadblocks in and out of Tigray mean aid operations are stifled and basic commodities risk running out.

African Balkanization? Writing in 2019, Florian Bieber and Wondemagegn Tadesse Goshu warned Abiy’s government not to make the same mistakes as those that beset the former Yugoslavia as competing ethnic groups struggled for power, leading to the fragmentation of a federal state. “The Yugoslav scenario is not destined to repeat in Ethiopia,” they wrote, “but it offers a cautionary tale: During moments of political liberalization, ethnonational federal systems are particularly combustible.”


What We’re Following Today 

Disaster in the Mediterranean. At least 74 people died on Thursday in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya while trying to reach Europe, the eighth shipwreck involving migrants in the past six weeks, according to the International Organization for Migration. IOM reports that 796 people have died trying to make the crossing in 2020 alone. “The mounting loss of life in the Mediterranean is a manifestation of the inability of states to take decisive action to redeploy much needed, dedicated search and rescue capacity in the deadliest sea-crossing in the world,” said Federico Soda, IOM’s Libya chief of mission.



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