UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet addressed allegations of human rights and humanitarian law violations in Ethiopia in a Dec. 22 statement, calling for an investigation into the claims, and urgent protection of civilians. The conflict between central government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) began seven weeks ago, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. Abuses were reportedly carried out by both central government and TPLF forces—as well as by the armed forces of neighboring Eritrea, which has entered the conflict on the side of the Ethiopian central government.
Several large artillery bombardments were allegedly carried out in Humera between Nov. 9 and 11. Witnesses report that shells were launched from Eritrea, devastating residential areas and destroying a hospital. The Ethiopian army and allied regional Amhara forces reportedly then took control of Humera, where they killed civilians and looted buildings. A second massacre is also alleged to have occurred in Mai Kadar on Nov. 9. Several hundred people were killed in Mai Kadar, the majority of whom were Amharan.
In her statement, Bachelet said that these killings could be classified as war crimes if “civilians were deliberately killed by a party or parties to the conflict.” Given the likelihood that these actions fall under such a category, she also called for an immediate, impartial, and thorough investigations into the killings.
There have also been growing concerns over potential human rights abuses during the region’s communications blackout that started on Nov. 4, as well as for the ongoing safety and physical wellbeing of the some 96,000 Eritrean refugees who were located in Tigray when the conflict began.
Tens of thousands of individuals have been displaced due to the conflict, and more than 54,000 Ethiopians have fled from the Tigray region to Sudan.
From Jurist, Dec. 23. Used with permission.
See our last post on the Tigray conflict.
Map via EthioVisit