Ethiopia, a landlocked country with dozens of unique ethnic groups, is nestled in the complex topography of the Horn of Africa and the East African Rift. Tigray, a small region of Ethiopia, borders Eritrea and is home to most of Ethiopia’s estimated 7 million ethnic Tigrayans. In November 2020, Tigray’s regional government launched a full-scale siege of a key Ethiopian military base. In response, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a federal offensive against the region, setting off a conflict that has killed thousands of Ethiopians and displaced over 2 million people. The situation has since devolved into a full-scale humanitarian crisis with reports of extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, and indiscriminate shelling of towns in the Tigray region. It is further complicated by the presence of Eritrean troops, led by autocrat Isaias Afwerki, who have also been blamed for mass killings and large scale attacks on civilians.
Michelle D. Gavin is senior fellow for Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. She has over twenty years of experience in international affairs in government and non-profit roles. She was formerly the managing director of The Africa Center, a multidisciplinary institution dedicated to increasing understanding of contemporary Africa. From 2011 to 2014 she was the United States ambassador to Botswana, and served concurrently as the United States representative to the Southern African Development Community. We hope you enjoy today’s episode of the Hopkins Podcast on Foreign Affairs!
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