Concern continues to grow over the humanitarian situation in Tigray, where the conflict began in November.
Atrocities have been committed in Tigray, Ethiopia’s northern region, where fighting continues as government troops hunt down its fugitive leaders, the country’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed said.
This is the first time that Abiy seems to recognize that serious crimes have taken place in Tigray, where six million people live.
“Reports indicate that atrocities have been committed in the Tigray region,” Abiy told parliamentarians in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Tuesday.
War is “a bad thing,” he said, speaking the local Amharic language. “We know the destruction caused by this war.”
He said soldiers who raped women or committed other war crimes will be held accountable, although he cited “exaggeration propaganda” from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the once dominant party whose leaders challenged Abiy’s legitimacy after the elections were postponed. Last year.
Abiy spoke as concerns continue to grow over the humanitarian situation in the besieged region where the conflict began in November last year when Abiy sent government troops to the area following an attack on federal military installations.
The federal army is now chasing fugitive regional leaders.
Abiy accused leaders in the besieged region of drumming “a tale of war” as the region faced challenges such as a destructive locust invasion and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was inappropriate and untimely arrogance,” he said.
Ethiopian Prime Minister, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for his efforts to make peace with Eritrea, faces pressure to end the conflict in Tigray and open an international investigation into war crimes presumed.
Critics of the government say an ongoing federal investigation is not sufficient because the government cannot effectively investigate itself.
On Monday, heads of nine UN agencies and other officials called for an end to attacks on civilians in Tigray, “including rape and other horrific forms of sexual violence.”
In a joint statement, UN agencies, the UN Special Investigator on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and two umbrella organizations representing NGOs also called on all parties in Tigray to explicitly condemn all sexual violence and to ensure that their forces respect and protect civilians. populations, especially women and children, against all human rights violations ”.
Deputy UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said on Monday the conflict continued to cause massive displacement, with tens of thousands arriving in Shire, Axum and Adwa, most fleeing the fighting in the west. of Tigray in recent weeks.
There are also reports of people uprooted by violence in the northwest and central regions, he said.
Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch reported that Eritrean forces shot dead hundreds of children and civilians in a massacre in Tigray in November.
An Amnesty International investigation into the same events detailed how Eritrean troops “went wild and systematically killed hundreds of civilians in cold blood”.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has joined calls for Eritrean troops to leave Tigray while UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has called for an investigation into the situation.