UN investigators said on Monday they believed the Ethiopian government was behind the ongoing crimes against humanity in the Tigray region, and warned that renewed conflict there increased the risk of “new atrocities”.
In its first report, the Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia said it found evidence of a wide range of violations in the country by all sides since fighting broke out in the region of Ethiopia. northern Tigray in November 2020.
The commission, set up by the UN Human Rights Council last year and made up of three independent human rights experts, said it had “reasonable grounds to believe that in several cases, these violations constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity”.
Experts pointed to the horrifying situation in Tigray, where the government and its allies have denied around six million people access to basic services, including internet and banking, for more than a year, and where Severe restrictions on humanitarian access have left 90% of the population in urgent need of assistance.
The report states that there are “reasonable grounds to believe that the federal government and allied regional governments have committed and continue to commit crimes against humanity of persecution on ethnic grounds and other inhumane acts.”
They were “intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury to body or mental or physical health by reason of their continued denial and obstruction of humanitarian assistance to Tigray,” according to the report.
In a statement, commission chairwoman Kaari Betty Murungi described the humanitarian crisis in Tigray as “shocking, both in terms of scale and duration”.
“The widespread denial and obstruction of access to basic services, food, health care and humanitarian aid is having a devastating impact on the civilian population, and we have reasonable grounds to believe that this amounts to a crime against humanity,” she said.
“We also have reasonable grounds to believe that the federal government is using starvation as a method of warfare,” she added, calling on the government to “immediately restore basic services and ensure full and unfettered humanitarian access.” “.
Murungi also called on the Tigrayan forces to “ensure that humanitarian agencies can operate without hindrance”.
Tigray has been shelled repeatedly since fighting resumed in late August between government forces and their allies, and rebels led by the TPLF, which ruled Ethiopia for decades before Abiy took office in 2018 .
The return to fighting has shattered a March truce and dashed hopes of a peaceful resolution to the war, which has killed countless civilians and sparked a humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia.
“With a resumption of hostilities in northern Ethiopia, there is a very real risk of further civilian suffering and further atrocities,” Murungi warned.
“The international community should not close its eyes and instead redouble its efforts to ensure the cessation of hostilities and the restoration of humanitarian aid and services in Tigray,” she said.
“Failure to do so would be catastrophic for the Ethiopian people and would have wider implications for peace and stability in the region.”
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