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Ethiopia: Civilians once again plunged into intractable and deadly war, says Human Rights Council

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  Once again the people of Ethiopia are plunged into the intractable and deadly consequences of the conflict between government troops and forces loyal to Tigrayan separatist fighters who are likely to be responsible for war crimes investigators from the human rights In its first comprehensive report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia said it believed crimes against humanity had also been committed in the intermittent war that broke out in the northern region in November 2020 Worst Rights Violations Serious rights violations in Tigray were ongoing the report said noting that fighting resumed last month breaking a five month ceasefire Extrajudicial killings rape sexual violence and starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare have occurred in Ethiopia since the early days of the conflict the Council heard Citing information from credible sources the Commission s chairwoman Kaari Betty Murungi who like the other two members of the panel is a UN appointed independent rights expert said there had been an escalation in attacks with drones by government forces that used explosives weapons with wide area effects in populated areas since hostilities resumed Our research indicates that its use has exposed civilians to new and increased risks she said We have received reports of drone strikes in Tigray in the last four weeks which have allegedly killed and injured civilians including children As for the Tigrayan forces Ms Murungi insisted that they had also likely committed serious human rights abuses that amount to war crimes These included large scale killings of Amhara civilians rape and sexual violence and widespread looting and destruction of civilian property in Kobo and Chenna in August and September 2021 During their house searches in Kobo for example security forces of Tigrayan searched for weapons and dragged many men from their homes executing them often in front of their families Desperate conditions Today international humanitarian access to Tigray remains blocked despite the dire situation there Ms Murungi said There were reasonable grounds to believe that the federal government and its allies looted and destroyed property essential to the survival of the civilian population in Tigray killing livestock destroying food stores and razing crops while implementing severe restrictions on humanitarian access to Tigray she added noting that for more than a year six million people have been denied access to electricity internet telecommunications and banking This denial and obstruction of access to basic services food medical care and humanitarian aid is equivalent to crimes against humanity of persecution and inhumane acts insisted the president of the Commission Starvation tactic We also have reasonable grounds to believe that the federal government is committing the war crime of using starvation as a method of warfare the leading independent human rights expert continued noting that Tigrayan forces reportedly looted the humanitarian aid According to the latest dire humanitarian data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs OCHA conflict and displacement in northern Ethiopia have left more than nine million people in need in the Tigray Afar and Amhara while severe drought affects millions more in the south Citing OCHA Ms Murungi said that the combined effect of the federal government s measures had left 90 per cent of the population in dire need an increase of 80 per cent since the start of the conflict The majority of Tigray s population must now survive on limited and nutritionally inadequate diets he said adding that there has also been an increase in child marriages and child labour human trafficking and transactional sex as desperate means of survival Tigrayan women and girls not forgiven According to the Commission s president rapes and crimes of sexual violence had occurred on a staggering scale since the early days of the conflict with Ethiopian and Eritrean forces and regional militias attacking the women and girls of Tigraya with particular attention violence and brutality Tigrayan forces also committed rape and sexual violence against Amhara women and girls and Eritrean refugees Ms Murungi said highlighting the devastating long term impacts on survivors that included trauma unwanted pregnancies and HIV infection Unfair and biased scrutiny Rejecting the report s conclusions the Ethiopian delegation repeated its claim that the federal government had been subjected to unfair and biased scrutiny in the Council for more than a year Addis Ababa pledged to respond to an insurrectionary armed group that has endangered the territorial integrity of the country the Council heard The international commission of human rights experts on Ethiopia was established after the Human Rights Council adopted resolution S 33 1 on December 17 2021 It tasked a panel of three human rights experts appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations of violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law and international refugee law in Ethiopia committed since 3 December November 2020 by all parties to the conflict
Ethiopia: Civilians once again plunged into intractable and deadly war, says Human Rights Council

1 Once again, the people of Ethiopia are “plunged …

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2 into the intractable and deadly consequences” of the conflict between government troops and forces loyal to Tigrayan separatist fighters, who are likely to be responsible for war crimes, investigators from the human rights.

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3 In its first comprehensive report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia said it believed crimes against humanity had also been committed in the intermittent war that broke out in the northern region in November 2020.

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4 Worst Rights Violations Serious rights violations in Tigray were “ongoing”, the report said, noting that fighting resumed last month, breaking a five-month ceasefire.

5 “Extrajudicial killings, rape, sexual violence and starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare” have occurred in Ethiopia since the early days of the conflict, the Council heard.

6 Citing information from “credible sources,” the Commission’s chairwoman, Kaari Betty Murungi, who like the other two members of the panel is a UN-appointed independent rights expert, said there had been an “escalation” in attacks with drones by government forces that used explosives.

7 weapons “with wide-area effects in populated areas”, since hostilities resumed.

8 “Our research indicates that its use has exposed civilians to new and increased risks,” she said.

9 “We have received reports of drone strikes in Tigray in the last four weeks, which have allegedly killed and injured civilians, including children.”

10 As for the Tigrayan forces, Ms. Murungi insisted that they had also likely committed serious human rights abuses “that amount to war crimes”.

11 These included “large-scale killings of Amhara civilians, rape and sexual violence, and widespread looting and destruction of civilian property in Kobo and Chenna in August and September 2021.

12 “During their house searches in Kobo, for example, security forces of Tigrayan searched for weapons and dragged many men from their homes, executing them, often in front of their families.” Desperate conditions Today, international humanitarian access to Tigray remains blocked, despite the dire situation there, Ms. Murungi said.

13 There were reasonable grounds to believe that the federal government and its allies “looted and destroyed property essential to the survival of the civilian population in Tigray, killing livestock, destroying food stores and razing crops while implementing severe restrictions on humanitarian access to Tigray.

14 ”.

15 she added, noting that for more than a year, six million people have been denied access to electricity, internet, telecommunications and banking.

16 This denial and obstruction of access to basic services, food, medical care and humanitarian aid “is equivalent to crimes against humanity of persecution and inhumane acts,” insisted the president of the Commission.

17 Starvation ‘tactic’ “We also have reasonable grounds to believe that the federal government is committing the war crime of using starvation as a method of warfare,” the leading independent human rights expert continued, noting that Tigrayan forces reportedly looted the humanitarian aid.

18 According to the latest dire humanitarian data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), conflict and displacement in northern Ethiopia have left more than nine million people in need in the Tigray, Afar and Amhara, while severe drought affects millions.

19 more in the south.

20 Citing OCHA, Ms. Murungi said that the combined effect of the federal government’s measures had left 90 per cent of the population in dire need, an increase of 80 per cent since the start of the conflict.

21 “The majority of Tigray’s population must now survive on limited and nutritionally inadequate diets,” he said, adding that there has also been “an increase in child marriages and child labour, human trafficking and transactional sex as desperate means.”

22 of survival”.

23 Tigrayan women and girls not forgiven According to the Commission’s president, rapes and crimes of sexual violence had occurred “on a staggering scale” since the early days of the conflict, “with Ethiopian and Eritrean forces and regional militias attacking the women and girls of Tigraya with particular attention”.

24 violence and brutality”.

25 Tigrayan forces also committed rape and sexual violence against Amhara women and girls and Eritrean refugees, Ms. Murungi said, highlighting the devastating long-term impacts on survivors that included trauma, unwanted pregnancies and HIV infection.

26 ‘Unfair and biased scrutiny’ Rejecting the report’s conclusions, the Ethiopian delegation repeated its claim that the federal government had been subjected to “unfair and biased scrutiny” in the Council for more than a year.

27 Addis Ababa pledged to respond to an “insurrectionary armed group that has endangered the territorial integrity of the country,” the Council heard.

28 The international commission of human rights experts on Ethiopia was established after the Human Rights Council adopted resolution S-33/1 on December 17, 2021.

29 It tasked a panel of three human rights experts, appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, “to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations of violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law and international refugee law in Ethiopia committed since 3 December November 2020 by all parties to the conflict.”

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