July 23, 2024
Ethiopia’s Tigray war: 600,000 people died while $25bn needed for rehabilitation — Ex-President Obasanjo
– By Godswill Odiong

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By Eyo Nsima
The former President Olusegun Obasanjo has attributed the immediate cause of Ethiopia’s Tigray civil war to the assumption of office by Prime Minister Abiy and the reaction of Tigray leadership to his policies.

The war was devastating, especially as no fewer than 600,000 people died directly in battle or as a result of disease and the lack of access to humanitarian aid while the cost of the reconstruction and rehabilitation of private and public properties and institutions was estimated at about $25 billion.
In a statement issued by Kehinde Akinyemi, his media assistant, former President Obasanjo, stated: “Whatever the history, background or remote causes of the civil war in Tigray region, its immediate cause was not unconnected with the assumption of office by Prime Minister Abiy and the reaction of Tigray leadership to what they perceived as the policies and programs of the prime minister. The last straw was the alleged attack on the northern command of the Ethiopian Army located in Tigray by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

“On Nov. 4, 2020, the TPLF attacked the Ethiopian Defence Forces garrison in Tigray. In response, Prime Minister Abiy ordered what was labelled “law and order action” to punish the alleged impunity of TPLF. The war raged for two years devastatingly and directly over four regions in Ethiopia – Tigray, Amhara Afar, and Oromia. There was no part of the country that did not feel the effect of the war in one way or the other.

“Some of the neighbours of Ethiopia such as Eritrea and Sudan had their part in the war directly and indirectly, and all countries in the Horn were impacted indirectly by the social, economic and political fallout.
“The destruction caused in the Tigray region which was the main theatre of the war was very high in human and material losses. It has been estimated that no fewer than 600,000 people died directly in battle or as a result of disease and the lack of access to humanitarian aid.

“If the destruction of lives caused directly and indirectly in other parts of Ethiopia, particularly in Amhara, Afar, and Oromia is added, the estimated total lives lost in Ethiopia’s civil war would be close to one million. The cost of the reconstruction and rehabilitation of private and public properties and institutions has been estimated at about $25 billion.
“To the quantifiable loss of lives and properties and other material losses must be added the unquantifiable losses of opportunities occasioned by the war. The cost of the destruction of trust and the breakdown of relationships within and without the country is high and will take years if not decades to fully rebuild.

“As I traversed the country consulting with regional leaders and stakeholders from all walks of life, I observed and felt the impact of the destruction and losses at close quarters. I witnessed the wailing and crying of those who had lost loved ones, at the sites of mass graves. The frustration, anger, and desperation caused by the war were everywhere to be seen.”

He added: “At the same time, I encountered local and foreign people — particularly community leaders and people in the civil society – working tirelessly to give help, hope, succour and life to victims and those in need. From the beginning of the civil war in November 2020, there were efforts made at the local, regional, continental and global levels to stop the violence and the accompanying losses. There were efforts by different groups at the national level to prevent degeneration into wars.”

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