‘Remember the forgotten:’ potential for peace in Tigray piques student interest

The conflict between Ethiopia and Tigray- which has reportedly- resulted in the loss of hundred of thousands of lives looks to be headed for a partial resolution, this has at least one Minnesota State student cautiously optimistic.

“I’ve heard from the Ethiopian government before saying these peaceful allegations for the Tigrayan government, but nothing changed and the fighting continued, and the genocide continued,” said Kidus Asgedom, president of the Tigray Student Association at Minnesota State.

The Ethiopian government and Tigray agreed to a truce after two years of conflict that resulted in war that affected millions. According to the Associated Press, Ethiopia’s two conflicting sides agreed to permanently cease the conflict that has reportedly killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions over the duration of the two-year war.

Hospitals, schools and businesses were reported looted and destroyed by Ethiopian and Eritrean armed forces. There were also restrictions on humanitarian access. More than 2 million people fled their homes — with thousands fleeing into Sudan, and left at least 2.3 million in need of assistance.

“I hope for the better, and they have been talking about humanitarian aid and serving the people in Tigray, but I can’t really talk about it until I see something change,” Asgedom said.

Members of the TSA agree and said they are hoping for the best but are still unsure if the agreement will hold.

“This might bring a smile to most of the Tigrayan people, this is a good thing,” Asgedom said. 

Challenges that lie ahead include getting all parties to lay down arms or withdraw. Eritrea, which fought with Ethiopia, was not a part of the conversation of the peace talk. It is unclear if they will follow Ethiopia and honor the agreement. The draft agreement between Ethiopia and Tigray states “collusion with any external force hostile to either party.”

The night before the truce agreement was announced, TSA hosted a candlelight memorial for those still facing crisis overseas. Over two dozen students gathered in MSU’s Wiecking Center. This was the group’s first official meeting as an RSO where students came to show their support and dedicate their candles to loved ones still in Tigray.

TSA became an officially recognized student organization this semester and plans to keep educating people and celebrating its culture despite its hardships. One of their main goals as a new organization is to raise awareness about what is happening in Tigray. 

“We wanted to share knowledge about what was happening in Tigray and what Tigray is. There is little to no media coverage about the situation,” Asgedom said. 

Being in Tigray when the war first started and now having lost connection with his family for over a year, he has found it crucial to find community in the U.S.

“Finding my people here, there’s hope. They make me feel strong and to keep fighting,” Asgedom said. “They made me realize I’m not alone and I can do this.”

Asgedom was on the verge of being deported as his student visa requires him to be a full-time student as well as pay tuition and international student insurance fees.

“I was on the verge of not being able to go to school and being an international student you have to go to school full time. Once that is gone they deport you, which is not an option for me being from Tigray,” Asgedom said.

Finding supportive peers during this time has been difficult due to the lack of coverage in the midst of the Ukraine and Russia conflict.

“We didn’t have a lot of support on campus because a lot of people don’t know about it,” Rediet Gebretsadik, vice president of the TSA, said. “A lot of people don’t want to talk about it. None of the students will understand unless it is happening to them.”

Schools and other service buildings were shut down during the war. 

“None of the schools are open at the moment and recently a children’s school was bombed. People are being displaced and it’s really terrible,” Gebretsadik said.

TSA not only wants to educate those about the war in Tigray but also to share and celebrate the culture. 

“We’re trying to share our culture and have some members perform again at the International Festival and share the culture through dance,” Asgedom said. 

In the future they are planning to conduct a fundraiser for those who were displaced either in neighboring countries or overseas. The TSA hosts weekly meetings on Tuesdays at the Library.

Header Photo: The Tigray Student Association hosted their first official meeting Tuesday night with a candlelight memorial. Students were encouraged to dedicate their candle to those still in Tigray. Over two dozen students came to the event at Wiecking Center. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)

Write to Julia Barton at

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