An Ethiopian refugee from the Tigray region and her child wait for help in the same camp that hosted Ethiopian refugees during the famine of the early 1980s in Sudan on December 1, 2020. File photo by Ala Kheir / EPA-EFE
November 3 (UPI) – An investigative report released by the United Nations Human Rights Office on Wednesday blamed both the defense forces in Ethiopia and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray for the atrocities that took place during the civil conflict that lasted for a year in this African country.
The report is a rare collaboration between the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, and so far it is the only investigation into the civil war in Ethiopia, which will be exactly one year old on Thursday.
The 156-page report details how Tigray militants and Ethiopian forces endangered civilians and failed to take action to ensure their safety during the conflict, which is believed to have claimed nearly 10,000 lives.
The investigation also involves supporters of the Tigray movement and forces from neighboring Eritrea who are aligned with Ethiopian troops.
The report says the failures are a violation of international human rights and humanitarian and refugee laws.
“The [Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces and opposition Tigray Special Forces] carried out attacks on civilians causing death and injury to men, women, boys and girls, ”the report said. “The parties to the conflict have not taken sufficient precautions to protect civilians and civilian objects.
“ENDF and TSF have occupied and used civilian infrastructure, such as schools and health facilities without proper justification for military use. ”
The report says both sides used torture and other illegal techniques against civilians, as well as sexual violence.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that all parties to the conflict (…) have committed sexual and gender-based violence and that in many cases rape and other forms of sexual violence have been used to degrade and dehumanize the victims, ”he added. States.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law related to sexual violence, including rape, have been committed (…) and require further investigation . Some of them may also constitute war crimes and, given their systematic nature, crimes against humanity.
The assessment notes “extreme brutality” in the midst of the fighting and indicates that Ethiopian and Eritrean forces are responsible for “a large number of violations”.
Ethiopian National Defense troops are seen during a military parade in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Archive photo by EPA-EFE
The United Nations called on all parties to end the fighting and find a diplomatic solution, as well as to document human rights violations, punish offenders and allow civilians to live free from military violence .
The fighting began on November 3, 2020, when militants from Tigray targeted Ethiopian positions in the northern region. A number of factors led to the conflict, including an orderly military offensive against the leadership of Tigray, political reforms and the loss of political power of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray. The TPLF was the main ruling party in Ethiopia for many years, but is no longer officially recognized by the Ethiopian government.
Ethiopia declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and urged citizens to take up arms against Tigray fighters as the rebel group claimed to capture two towns near the main road to the capital, Addis. -Abeba.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that “the stability of Ethiopia and the wider region is at stake” and called for an immediate end to hostilities and unrestricted humanitarian access.
“The secretary general is extremely concerned about the escalation of violence in Ethiopia and the recent declaration of a state of emergency,” said a spokesperson for Guterres.
In addition to thousands of dead, more than 2 million people in Africa’s second most populous country have been displaced since the conflict began. Aid workers have been prevented from providing aid to the area, and some have been harassed and killed.
The United Nations has repeatedly stated that more than 5 million people in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, which represents 90% of the population of Tigray, are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance – including 400,000 who face famine and more than 100,000 children at risk of life-threatening malnutrition over the next 12 months.
Ethiopia last month expelled seven senior UN officials on charges of “meddling in the country’s internal affairs.”
In response to the fighting, US President Joe Biden last month signed an order calling for a ceasefire and authorizing economic sanctions against Ethiopian government leaders if they do not take action to end the bloodshed.
On Tuesday, the Biden administration also threatened to withdraw the country from the African Growth and Opportunity Act trade deal, which grants duty-free access to the United States. US officials said there had been “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”