Since the start of the war, the world has witnessed horrendous atrocities on the people of Tigray. Even though the severity of the war on the people of Tigray is no longer a secret, the true extent of the damage is still not known. In the last six months, there have been plenty of announcements of glorious victories, encirclement, and the capture of enemies. What is not publicized is the human cost of the war. There have, to date, been no official reports detailing the human or financial cost of the war to Ethiopia.
In early December 2020, there was an unconfirmed report of “tens of thousands of deaths among Ethiopian forces and those from neighboring Eritrea.” Compiling reports of military battles by DW from March 30-April 12, 2021, there was a report of 12,535 casualties, of which 5795 were killed and the rest were wounded. In his interview in late April 2021, Getachew Reda estimated the casualties were quite significant.
In this obscure context, with no official reporting, the following leaked letter (along with two attachments) from the Amhara National Regional State Health Bureau addressed to the Ministry of Health of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, however, offers the first documented evidence of the human cost. The letter dated May 10, 2021, shows the cost of items and expenses incurred to care for the wounded military personnel while on duty.
In the letter, the health bureau requests medical expenses amounting to 99,272,522.06 Ethiopian Birr to be reimbursed to the Amhara Regional State by the federal government. The bureau’s head stated that they had used their limited resources to attend the wounded in eleven hospitals and eight health centers across the Amhara region. The bureau’s head requested the Regional State Government to reimburse medical expenses incurred to treat the injured to continue their regular service to civilians. The first attachment shows 10,209 wounded military personnel received treatment at eleven hospitals at the cost of 60, 789,667.06 Ethiopian Birr.
The rest of the request for costs associated with expenses incurred by the Ethiopian military (exact numbers not mentioned, but given the similarity of the cost items – with the first attachment – it can be estimated between 5000-6000) at eight health centers at the expense of 38,482,855.00.
Although Abiy Ahmed declared that the war was over in late November and that Ethiopian National Defence Forces were now only engaged in hunting down a few ‘TPLF cliques,’ it has been obvious to all that the war was far from over. What was supposed to be a quick law enforcement operation has now dragged into a full-blown civil war, and six months in, there is no sign of culmination.
While Ethiopians are still celebrating victories, they seem to, unfortunately, forget at what cost these ‘victories’ are coming. No one seems to ask about the fate of those who have not returned home or are languishing in infirmaries across the country. Astute observers who have not buried their heads in the sand could envisage how many Ethiopian youths have been sacrificed to ‘destroy’ the ‘Junta clique.’ Abiy Ahmed’s own admission that the army has been weakened immensely and his repeated plea for the youth to join the military is only but a hint to the actual human cost of the war that he is hiding.
So, for those who dare to ask: here is a question for Abiy Ahmed: what is the human cost of the war on Tigray?Medical-and-other-coasts-for-mass-cacualities-1