The escalating conflict in the Tigray region further endangers the humanitarian situation

Woman sitting near a building in Addis Abeba Woman sitting near a building in Addis Abeba Mesfin Tesfaye on Unsplash

3 November 2021

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights demands an immediate stop of the fighting and calls for enhanced actions for the protection of civilians and their rights

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia. After a recent escalation of the conflict, Ms. Bachelet called on all parties to halt the fighting immediately. According to the Report concluding the joint investigation of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC)/Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the alleged violation of human rights, humanitarian and refugee law in the Tigray region, civil society has been facing  from abuses committed by all sides of the conflict. The Report is based on almost 270 interviews with victims and witnesses and on more than 60 meetings with federal and regional officials. It shows the brutalities perpetrated - among which sexual violence committed by Ethiopian, Eritrean and Tigrayan forces. 

The conflict between the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF), the Eritrean Defence Force (EDF), the Amhara Special Forces (ASF) and other militias on one side of the conflict, and the Tigrayan Special Forces (TSF), Tigrayan militia and other groups allied with them on the other side commenced on 3 November 2020. Until 28 June 2021, when the Ethiopian Government declared a unilateral ceasefire, several violations and abuses, such as unlawful killings, torture, sexual and gender-based violence and forced displacements of civilians were committed -  constituting a breach of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law. Ms. Bachelet asserts that some of these unlawful acts could also constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes. 

Furthermore, the fighting has hindered delivery of aid and food to the people living in the Tigray region, leaving thousands of people in famine-like conditions. Referring to the Report, Ms. Bachelet also explains that the fighting between the Tigrayan Special Forces and the Eritrean Defence Force (EDF) near Shimelba refugee camp, forced thousands of Eritrean refugees to flee. Likewise, thousands of civilians fled after being subject to ethnic and identity-based attacks, such as the forced displacement of the ethnic Amharas by the Tigrayan Samri youth group in Mai Kadra and the widespread retaliatory displacement of  ethnic Tigrayans by the Amhara Special Forces. 


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Author: Pietro Mattioli



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