Ethiopia's recurrent hunger war

By Ollie Campbell

"Community Water Pump, Tigray" by Rod Waddington

History repeats itself as starvation is caused by disastrous left-wing policies in Ethiopia.

 

Ethiopia is well-known globally for being the 13th most populous country in the world and the second-most in Africa. With a GDP per capita of $2,772, poverty is rife with 24% of the population below the relatively low national poverty line. The reasons for this widespread impoverishment surely seem obvious: lack of water, conflict, colonisation and refugee crises. Although Ethiopia is described as being ‘never colonised,’ due to the lack of lasting colonial infrastructure this did have various repercussions for their political stance. An especially important, but mostly overlooked, reasoning towards poverty is the downfall of many countries with vast potential: Marxism.

 

In 1985, around a third of the global population tuned in to watch Live Aid, a pop concert used to accumulate money for starving Ethiopians. What most people don’t understand is that poor crop harvests will only create a national famine should the leaders let it. Between 1983-5 around 1 million Ethiopians died, and contrary to common belief, it was not the weather that killed them.

 

Mengistu Haile Mariam was the Marxist dictator of Ethiopia at the time of this famine. Because of the communist ruling, there was little motivation to produce more than what was personally needed, so peasants were forced at gunpoint onto collective farms. Any potential opposition to the government that arose was quickly beaten down. A surgency in the Northern region of Tigray was quickly vanquished by Mengistu by burning crops, killing livestock and destroying grain stores. Not everyone agreed with these aggressive methods and even the head of Mengistu’s humanitarian agency came begging to him asking for some funds to feed those who are starving. What ensued was a very notably insensitive dismissal: “Don’t let these petty human problems…consume you.”

 

With a history such as this, Ethiopia is surely likely to prevent more tyrannical oppression on its people. In 2018, things were finally looking up for the Ethiopian people as reformer Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister and almost immediately won a Nobel Peace Prize the following year. However, the rebellious groups of Tigray have not lost their motivation even after all the harsh conditions they have endured. Fighting broke out in November 2020 between the federal forces and Tigray’s defiant former ruling party. Since then, approximately 2 million out of a total of 6 million of the population of Tigray have been forced to flee their homes. Those that are left will become malnourished as the government is letting little food into the area.

 

Plenty of food is available, but aid agencies estimate that 2-4.5 million people are in urgent need of assistance. Although, the number could be much higher as the government have turned off phone networks and refused to allow any reporters into the region. This government is the same government that was calling for unity after the election when a coalition was created, meaning 512 of the 547 seats in parliament are held by the Prosperity party, mostly politicians with a background of left-wing and Marxist policies. The very few who have made it into the area return with sickening accounts of ethnic killings, mass rapes and widespread starvation.

 

This is not an inescapable destiny for the unfortunate Ethiopians. Charities and organisations across the globe have offered food to the Tigray area but every attempt has been unsuccessful in delivering supplies. The Orwellian style of the Ministry of Peace has created so much bureaucracy that has sent anyone trying to deliver supplies into the area on a crazy hunt for permits. The Chief of Humanitarian Aid, Mark Lowcock, has announced ‘for more than two months there has essentially been no access to Tigray.’ The UN alone has more than 450 tonnes of supplies they have tried to get into the region but are unable to.

 

The ‘perfect unity’ that the Ethiopian Government have strived for since 2018 has turned the same way most overpowered parties become. Abiy insists that everything happening within Tigray is still done respecting humanitarian law and that it is for the safety of the aid workers that they do not enter the area. “This is not a civil war but merely police action,”. The entangled web of lies is becoming stronger. It is more than likely that the fighting has become too large for government control as bordering Eritrean groups join the conflict.

 

This is a political statement. Abiy has no intentions of losing power so wants to silence everyone who opposes his party. However, Ethiopia relies heavily on loans from the IMF and the World Bank for development. As the EU suspends is financial help until any aid is allowed into Tigray others will follow. Until this Marxist government is either massively reformed or removed, all financial help should be completely rescinded.


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