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The Crisis of Illicit Mining in Post-Genocide Tigray: An Urgent Appeal for Action

MekelleŠć° 5 June 2024 (Tigray Herald)

The Crisis of Illicit Mining in Post-Genocide Tigray: An Urgent Appeal for Action

BY Yonase Solomon international human right activist.

Introduction

In the aftermath of the genocide in Tigray, the region faces another profound crisis-illicitgold mining. This exploitation, particularly prevalent in northwestern Tigray, is primarilydriven by corrupt military and government officials. This situation poses severe threats to thesecurity, health, and environmental integrity of Tigray, undermining efforts for regional

restoration and territorial integrity.

The Scope of Illicit MiningPrevalence of Illicit Mining:

Extent: Approximately 90% of gold mining activities in Tigray are illegal.Perpetrators: These operations are often orchestrated by corrupt military officials andpoliticians, with illicit networks spanning across borders, notably involving smuggling routesthrough Eritrea.

Dangerous Practices:

Chemical Use: Miners use hazardous chemicals such as mercury and hydrogen cyanide.

These substances are critical for gold extraction but are extremely toxic.Environmental Impact: These chemicals contaminate water sources used by humans andanimals, leading to severe health consequences.

Health and Environmental Hazards

Health Risks:

Chemical Exposure: Mercury and hydrogen cyanide exposure can cause a range of severehealth issues, including kidney and brain diseases, as well as cancer.Water Contamination: Contaminated water sources result in widespread diseases amongcommunities relying on these for drinking, bathing, and agriculture.Environmental Damage:

Polluted Water Sources: The widespread use of toxic chemicals pollutes rivers andgroundwater, disrupting ecosystems and biodiversity.

Long-Term Impact: The environmental degradation caused by these practices could takedecades to remediate, affecting future generations.International Crime Dimensions

The illicit gold mining operations in Tigray have significant international crime dimensions.The smuggling of gold and toxic chemicals across borders indicates organized crimeinvolvement. The international community must recognize this as a crime against humanity,considering the severe implications for the Tigray population’s health and survival.

Obstacles to Regional Restoration and Territorial Integrity

Economic Exploitation:

The wealth generated from illicit gold mining does not benefit the local population but insteadfuels corruption and conflict.This exploitation undermines economic recovery efforts, making it challenging to rebuild the

region.Security Threats:

stability of Tigray.

The presence of organized crime networks poses an ongoing threat to the territorial integrity

and governance of the region.

An Urgent Appeal to TDF Military Leadership

To the esteemed leaders of the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF):

Your credibility and the trust placed in you by the people of Tigray are at a critical juncture.The illicit gold mining operations not only threaten the survival of the Tigray people but alsotarnish the integrity of our struggle for justice and restoration. We urge you to take immediateand decisive action to halt these activities. Your commitment to this cause is essential tomaintaining the respect and confidence of the Tigray population.

Call to Action

Immediate Interventions:

Deploy special units to dismantle illicit mining operations.Arrest and prosecute individuals involved, regardless of their rank or position.

Environmental and Health Mitigation:

Initiate cleanup operations to detoxify contaminated water sources.Provide medical assistance to affected communities.

International Support:

Appeal to international organizations for support in combating these illicit activities.Seek assistance for environmental restoration and health crisis management.Conclusion

The illicit mining crisis in Tigray is a multifaceted threat that endangers the very fabric of oursociety. Immediate and concerted efforts are required to address this issue comprehensively.The TDF’s leadership must rise to this challenge, demonstrating their unwaveringcommitment to the people of Tigray. Only through decisive action and internationalcooperation can we hope to restore peace, security, and prosperity to our region.

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