Ethiopia: how many dead in the Tigray war?

A destroyed tank on the side of a road, in the Tigray region (illustration image).

© RFI/Sebastien Nemeth

Text by: RFI Follow

2 mins

The war in Tigray is said to have caused “

 about 600,000 deaths


At least that is the opinion expressed by the mediator of the African Union (AU), former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, in an interview with the daily

Financial Times

on Monday 16 January.

A significant figure for a province of four million inhabitants, according to an observer of the situation in Ethiopia, but probably also underestimated in relation to reality.


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About 600,000 dead, for 500,000 regular combatants sent to the front lines;

600,000 dead in a mountainous and rural territory the size of Austria, i.e. as many as the Spanish Civil War of 1936. The figure put forward by the African Union mediator, Olusegun Obasanjo, which corresponds to that established in October 2022 by the University of Ghent, points out the war in Tigray as being "

 one of the deadliest conflicts in the world

 " today, according to the International Crisis Group and Amnesty International.




And yet, even if it is " 


 ", according to a European analyst, it is undoubtedly lower than reality.

Because it probably does not take into account the " 

indirect deaths

 ", that is to say the civilians killed by famine and disease.

Given the humanitarian blockade of Tigray for two years, these too number in the thousands.


This figure of 600,000 dead is problematic

 ,” confirms another researcher specializing in Tigray, because “ 

it does not specify who is counted: only Tigrayans, civilians and combatants?

But then

, he says,

we must add the deaths of the federal army, the Eritrean army and the Amhara and Afar paramilitaries 




The chairman of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission Daniel Bekele is sorry: “ 

We probably won't be able to know the total number of victims

 ,” he told the

Financial Times

, while advising “ 



The UN humanitarian coordination agency, for its part, told RFI " 

not to have a precise assessment 


►Also read

: Ethiopia: Tigrayan forces have begun to surrender their heavy weapons


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