Portland rally draws attention to war in Ethiopia's Tigray region
The event drew dozens of Tigrayans from across Maine and New England to rally on the steps of Portland City Hall and march through downtown.
Organizers said the goal was to raise awareness of the war that has gripped the Tigray region for nearly a year, leading to a severe humanitarian crisis.
The war is being fought between Tigrayan forces and the Ethiopian national government and its allies, including the neighboring country of Eritrea.
Making matters worse for the Tigrayan diaspora, said protesters, is that a de-facto government blockade of the region has cutoff communication with family members for months.
"I have aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents as well that are still there, and we have no contact and no phone, no internet – any connection to communicate with them," said Misrak Adane, who is from Tigray and now lives in Portland.
She said she has only been able to hear from a few of her extended family members after they fled the country.
Mahteme Demewe, who is also from Tigray and now lives in Boston, helped organize the event, which he said was meant to send several messages.
"To demand the government of Ethiopia to open the route in order to get supplies," Demewez said. "And also at the same time, the international organizations to supply food and medicine to the people of Tigray who are dying currently."
The United Nations has warned of a spiraling humanitarian crisis in the region, where millions of people are in urgent need of food aid and hundreds of thousands are already facing famine-like conditions.