Conflicts & War

UN urges end to violence in escalating Tigray conflict

Geneva, Nov 3 (EFE).- The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Wednesday appealed for an end to hostilities in the Tigray conflict in Ethiopia, where “all parties” have committed war crimes and human rights violations.

A UN investigation has found that the belligerents in the Tigray conflict — namely the Ethiopian and Eritrean government forces as well as rebel Tigrayan forces — are committing “horrific violations and abuses” of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law.

“Nobody is winning this reckless war which is engulfing increasing parts of the country. Every day more people are suffering and dying,” UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.

The investigation led by Michelle Bachelet, and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission covers the period from Nov. 3, 2020, when the conflict broke out in the northern region of Tigray, until the end of June, when a unilateral ceasefire was declared by the Ethiopian government.

The UN said that in recent days, the conflict has escalated amid reports of shelling of the Tigrayan capital Mekelle by the Ethiopian National Defence Force and gains made by Tigrayan forces into the region of Amhara, with authorities in Addis Ababa declaring a state of emergency on Tuesday.

“(The declaration of a state of emergency) risks compounding an already very serious human rights situation in the country. Further restrictions on access could also push an already extremely difficult humanitarian situation over the edge,” Bachelet said.

“The risks are grave that, far from stabilizing the situation, these extremely broad measures — which include sweeping powers of arrest and detention — will deepen divisions, endanger civil society and human rights defenders, provoke greater conflict and only add to the human suffering already at unacceptable levels,” she warned.

The conflict in Ethiopia pits the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, the Eritrean Defense Forces, the Amhara Special Forces and various related militias against the Tigrayan Special Forces and several armed groups, led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

The report recounts several episodes of ethnically motivated violence, in particular massacres of members of the Amhara or Tigrinya ethnic group.

It also portrays a situation in which sexual violence and torture have become common, as well as detentions in secret locations or military bases and looting and attacks against homes, churches and hospitals, which in some cases were being used as military installations, said the head of the East and Southern Africa section of Bachelet’s office, Françoise Mianda. EFE

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