Tigray conflict in Ethiopia: NASA demonstrates how a war zone vanished from outer space

Date:

Tigray conflict in Ethiopia: NASA demonstrates how a war zone vanished from outer space

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Thursday, October 20, 2022.
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • Cities are seen turning completely black over the course of 20 months as electricity is cut off.

  • Surreal Mearig is one of the youngsters who have reportedly passed away this year.

  • Engineers have been able to get 19 turbines to work, but they can’t connect to a grid for Tigray by themselves.

  • After a five-month humanitarian ceasefire, fighting started up again in August, and Mekelle has been attacked by drones several times since then.

  • Even if the blockade is lifted, the war, according to Prof. Getachew, will have a permanent effect on the infrastructure of the area.

The conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray area has left people facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in history, as shown in new photographs captured from space at night. Cities are seen turning completely black over the course of 20 months as electricity is cut off.

On Tuesday, Ethiopia said that its army had taken over the Shire, one of the largest cities in Tigray, as well as the villages of Alamata and Korem, which are south of Mekelle.

Several organizations, including the United Nations, the African Union, and the United States, have warned that a return to heavy fighting could exacerbate the situation for civilians.

Since June 2021, the Ethiopian government has prohibited journalists from visiting Tigray. Most of the communications in the area have been cut off, making it hard to report how bad the violence and humanitarian disasters are.

The embargo on the area, which has largely stopped humanitarian aid as well as other services like electricity and banking, has an adverse effect on young children, according to new data from the Tigray Bureau of Health shared with the BBC.

The statistics reveal a startling 1,533% increase in the number of children under the age of five who have died from starvation in the two years from July 2020, before the conflict started. Accordingly, 16 children perished in 2021–22 for every child who passed away before the war.

The BBC quoted Dr. Kokeb Hagos, who compiles the Tigray Health Bureau data, as telling the BBC that 2,450 children had died in hospitals between July 2021 and July 2022. He says that this number is much lower than it should be because there isn’t enough fuel for health workers to move around the region and phone and internet lines have been cut.

Statistics need to be written down and sent to the bureau, along with the fact that 70% of severely malnourished children have not been treated because there isn’t enough food or medicine.

Surreal Mearig is one of the youngsters who have reportedly passed away this year. His case was initially covered by the BBC in January 2022. At three months old, he weighed just 2.3 kg (5 lb), which was 1 kg less than his birth weight. His parents had lost their jobs and had no money to buy meals. He was receiving care at Mekelle’s Ayder Referral Hospital when we learned that he passed away a month later.

Bombed hydroelectric dam

NASA’s Black Marble photos, which cover the time from November 2020 to August 2022, could almost be used to map out how the conflict will go. This is because these photographs show Shire, Aksum, and Mekelle’s light levels declining. It is a monthly average of the light output from each city and a sign of how easily accessible power is in those cities.

The national power grid is under the control of Ethiopia’s federal government, but it has been charged with cutting off Tigray, where power was quite reliable in the towns of the province before the war, according to multiple people who spoke to the BBC.

In a report that came out in September, the UN’s International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia said that the government “suspended electricity, internet, telecommunications, and financial services in Tigray” on November 4, 2020, the day the violence started.

The pictures from November 2020 show a sudden decrease in light above the cities of Shire and Aksum. When they are in the hands of the government, the lights in the two cities get brighter between March and June 2021.

Up to July 2021, shortly after the city was retaken by Tigray forces, Mekelle was well-lit. It had started to rain during the first month of the war and continued to be sunny for the entire seven months when it was under government control.

A UN report says, “When Tigrayan forces took back control of large parts of Tigray, including Mekelle, in late June 2021, the federal government retaliated by cutting off electricity, the internet, phone services, and banking services for the region again.”

The Tekeze Hydroelectric Dam, which was blown up in December 2021, was the only major source of electricity for Tigray’s seven million people during the conflict.

Engineers are able to turn on two of the turbines by using spare parts from the other two, but the situation is very bad. Even the two operating turbines are inefficiently producing electricity since they have a number of defects that could have been fixed if spare parts were available, “the Calgary University associate professor of sustainable design told the BBC.”

The 84-turbine Ashegoda wind farm, which was launched in Mekelle in 2013 and was labelled Africa’s largest, is also located in Tigray, but Prof. Getachew notes that it has been idle throughout the crisis.

Engineers have been able to get 19 turbines to work, but they can’t connect to a grid for Tigray by themselves.

In July and August 2021, Shire and Aksum had almost no light, and Mekelle got darker and darker.

Prof. Getachew says that some of the patchiness, especially in July and August of this year, can be attributed to the dam’s seasonal levels. The power plant was built to be part of an integrated power supply and can’t produce power all the time.

Future phobias

Even though the Ethiopian government took over the Shire this week, they are still denying that they are limiting access to electricity, banks, and communications in Tigray. They have offered access to humanitarian organizations through the city’s airport.

According to sources on the front lines, the coalition of forces is currently moving from the Shire toward Aksum, Adwa, and Adigrat in the east.

Nearly two years ago, when the conflict first broke out, the Ethiopian government captured the Shire and then the other towns before seizing Mekelle. After a five-month humanitarian ceasefire, fighting started up again in August, and Mekelle has been attacked by drones several times since then.

The estimated 500,000 citizens of the city are going through a scary moment.

“The war has gotten worse. We are constantly asking when the drone will arrive. Will I discover my kids are still alive? ” I was informed by a nurse at the Ayder Referral Hospital.

One of the few remaining relief workers in the area claimed that her coworkers were now also going without food.

She claimed that all of the food had been consumed and that everyone was famished. “Numerous thousands of helpless individuals pound on our doors in need of assistance.” Many more people are living in their homes without food and are starving to death. ”

They worry about what might happen, especially if Ethiopian and Eritrean forces strike back.

Even if the blockade is lifted, the war, according to Prof. Getachew, will have a permanent effect on the infrastructure of the area.

As was allegedly the case in many of the towns Eritrean troops took control of early in the fighting, there are already tales of looting in the Shire with accusations that goods are being shipped back to Eritrea.

If this is the case, they will continue using the electricity infrastructure that is still in place.

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

Share post:

Subscribe

spot_imgspot_img

Popular

More like this
Related

Defying the Norms: The Everlasting Impact of Civil Disobedience on American Democracy

News by AUN News correspondent Saturday, June 01, 2024 AUN News –...

Despite conflict and court rulings, Israel’s defiance and diplomatic dilemmas persist

News by AUN News correspondent Saturday, May 25, 2024 AUN News –...

Policy Evaluation: Navigating the Landscape of Evidence-Based Decision-Making

News by AUN News correspondent Monday, May 06, 2024 AUN News –...

Escalating Diplomatic Crisis: Allegations of Chemical Weapon Use in Ukraine Spark Global Concern

News by AUN News correspondent Thursday, May 02, 2024 AUN News –...