Eden Kassa

By Eden Kassa

Peace is an elusive concept that holds a different meaning for every individual, community, and region. For the people of Tigray, in northern Ethiopia, which has been devastated by ethnic cleansing, rape, starvation, bombing, and forced displacement in the past two and half years, the pursuit of peace takes on a profound significance. Tigrayans, like any other war-torn community, yearn for a cessation of hostilities, the restoration of stability, and the chance to rebuild their lives. In examining what peace means for Tigray, it becomes evident that it encompasses far more than the mere absence of violence — it encompasses justice, reconciliation, and the opportunity for a prosperous future.

Posters that were exhibited at a recent Tigray demonstration

End to Violence and Conflict: First and foremost, peace for Tigray signifies an end to the violence and conflict in Tigray. The people of Tigray have endured unimaginable suffering since November 2020. Over 600,000 lives have been lost, homes have been destroyed, and families have been torn apart. The end to violence begins with removing hostile actors from the region; the Western Tigray and Northern Eastern Tigray have not caught a break from Eritrean troops and Amhara forces, who have continued their campaign of ethnic cleansing. The cessation of hostilities is a fundamental requirement for Tigrayans to rebuild their lives and heal the wounds inflicted by the atrocities.

Humanitarian Assistance and Rebuilding: Achieving peace in Tigray goes beyond the cessation of violence. It also entails providing much-needed humanitarian assistance to the affected population and facilitating the rebuilding of infrastructure, institutions, and livelihoods. The war has left Tigrayans facing dire humanitarian conditions, including man-made famine, forced displacement, and little to nothing access to basic services. It is important to remind the world that it is the only region on Earth for over two years to remain under de facto blockade or siege. The siege served as a makeshift concentration camp, where there was no access to transportation, no access to food, no access to healthcare, no access to water, no access to education, and no access to telecommunication. This effective siege was the “silent killer” and the perfect tactic to ensure Tigray Genocide continued without bullets being fired. Peace must involve the delivery of aid to those in need and restoring essential services such as healthcare, education, and clean water.

Justice and Accountability: For Tigray, peace is closely intertwined with justice and accountability. The human rights abuses and atrocities committed during the war must be thoroughly investigated, and those responsible must be held accountable. This is crucial to ensure that justice is served and to prevent a cycle of impunity from taking hold. Reconciliation cannot be achieved without addressing the wounds inflicted upon individuals and communities. A lasting peace requires acknowledging the past, supporting and remembering the victims, and working towards a fair and just society. Justice and accountability are indispensable components of peace-building in Tigray.

Inclusive Governance and Political Representation: Another essential aspect of peace for Tigray is the establishment of inclusive governance and political representation. The conflict in Tigray has exposed deep-rooted political grievances and a sense of marginalization among the region’s population. To achieve lasting peace, addressing these grievances and ensuring that Tigrayans have a meaningful voice in the political decision-making process is vital. Inclusive governance structures that promote dialogue, representation, and participation can bridge divides and foster a sense of belonging and ownership among all stakeholders.

Economic Development and GrowthTrue peace for Tigray also entails fostering economic development and creating growth opportunities. The conflict has devastated the region’s economy, leading to job losses, agricultural disruptions, and a plunge in trade and investment. Restoring economic stability and enabling sustainable development is essential to empower Tigrayans and provide them with a secure future. Peace should include initiatives to revitalize key sectors, promote entrepreneurship, and attract investments that generate employment and economic growth.

Peace holds a multifaceted significance for the people of Tigray. It encompasses the cessation of violence, humanitarian assistance, justice, accountability, inclusive governance, and economic prosperity. The pursuit of peace in Tigray must be seen as a comprehensive and long-term endeavor, requiring the collective efforts of the international community, regional actors, and the Ethiopian government. By recognizing and addressing the diverse needs and aspirations of the Tigrayan people, we can pave the way for a brighter and more peaceful future for Tigray.