(CNN)The sudden fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban has rightly drawn much of the world's ire and attention. Fears of women's rights and civil liberties being swept aside by Islamic extremism, along with trepidation about the country's threat to regional stability, have all justly triggered global concern.
And yet, much to our distress, for nearly a year the world has paid comparatively little attention to another brutal and escalating conflict; the catastrophic violence in Ethiopia that is affecting the lives of millions and imperiling stability in the Horn of Africa.
The fighting, which first erupted in November 2020, is the result of a dispute between the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and fighters in the country's mountainous northern region of Tigray. Thousands of Ethiopians have been killed in the conflict, and there is evidence of massacres of the innocent.
Two million people have been displaced, more than 350,000 are facing famine, and millions more are in need of emergency food aid. Yet continued fighting, bureaucratic hurdles imposed by the federal government and the blocking of key humanitarian aid routes has engendered a growing desperation that's gone largely unnoticed by the global community.
We have watched in horror as humanitarian groups have sounded the alarm about multiplying accounts of Ethiopian military members, along with allied troops from neighboring Eritrea and various supporting militia, claiming the bodies of Tigrayan women and girls as an extension of the battlefield. The Ethiopian government has pledged investigations into any wrongdoings.
Stories of rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, torture and humiliation have emerged as a grotesque feature of this crisis. Pramila Patten, the UN's top official on sexual violence in conflict, said in April that Tigrayan women and girls are being subjected to sexual abuse with "a level of cruelty beyond comprehension." In media reports, local medics have described removing nails and rocks from the bodies of victims. Again, we ask: Where is the outrage? According to Amnesty International, more than 1,000 cases of sexual violence were registered by local health facilities within just three months, and yet these estimates are likely just the tip of the iceberg. All too often, fear and stigma prevent many survivors from ever coming forward to report their ordeal. Click here to read more: https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/29/opinions/tigray-ethiopia-call-to-action-sesay-ujiri-agbor-tabi-akinnagbe/index.html