This brief removed report describes the conditions and challenges faced by displaced Tigrayans who have returned to their homes in the Eastern Zone of the region. The research provides rare insight into Tigray, because it is based on direct observations made by researchers in each district and seven focus group discussions with 66 IDP returnees. These methods rely on direct access, which has been prohibited in Tigray by the Ethiopian government for researchers, investigators, and independent journalists over the past two and a half years. This data is the closest thing to the unfiltered voice of Tigrayans that has been published by the United Nations in two years.
The report appears to have been available online for only four days, during which time it was summarized in a number of social media threads (Duke Burbridge, Yonas Nigussie) and articles (Martin Plaut, Davide Tommasin) including one post by the Director of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus that has been viewed by more than 125 thousand people. However on March 8 the UN-HCR removed the report without explanation from their website and the UN-OCHA ReliefWeb information service.
The UN-HCR did not immediately respond to inquiries made about this document, but the reason for its removal seems obvious. It presents the kind of voices and perspectives that the Ethiopian government has worked so hard to suppress for the past two and a half years. Generally speaking, the United Nations has cooperated either directly or indirectly with this effort.
The findings of the report have been summarized in the following threads and publications. In short, the returnees and researchers describe conditions that sharply contradict reports of significant progress being made to restore aid and services to the people of Tigray. The direct observations and focus group discussions revealed the aftermath of a scorched earth military occupation; widespread atrocities including kidnapping, murder, and sexual violence; acute resource scarcity; and severe lack of humanitarian assistance in the cities where they were hosted as IDPs and the villages to which they have returned.
The report is clearly marked as the first in a series. The UN-HCR should not only re-publish the first report, but also commit to publishing the other reports in this series.
The document was posted on March 3. An archived version of it can be found in the wayback machine.
Summary done by Duke Burbridge