At least 516 cases of rape reported by five medical facilities in Mekelle, Adigrat, Wukro, Shire and Axum, according to a UN official.
More than 500 cases of rape have been reported at five clinics in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the United Nations said on Thursday, warning that due to stigma and lack of health services the actual numbers would likely be much higher .
“Women say they have been raped by armed actors, they also told stories of gang rapes, rapes in front of their family members and men forced to rape their own family members under threat of violence,” he said. Wafaa Said, deputy UN aid coordinator in Ethiopia, said during a briefing to UN member states in New York.
She said at least 516 cases of rape had been reported by five medical facilities in Mekelle, Adigrat, Wukro, Shire and Axum.
“Considering the fact that most health facilities are not functioning and the stigma associated with rape, the actual numbers are expected to be much higher,” she added.
‘Horrible sexual violence’
A dozen senior UN officials called on Monday for an end to indiscriminate and targeted attacks against civilians in Tigray, in particular denouncing reports of rape and “other horrific forms of sexual violence.”
Fight in Tigray erupted in november between government troops and the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also said troops from neighboring Eritrea were in the area.
Redwan Hussein, spokesperson for the government emergency task force on Tigray, Billene Seyoum, spokesperson for Prime Minister Mulu Nega, head of the interim administration of Tigray, Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed and Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment on the UN remarks on Thursday.
Violence in Tigray has killed thousands and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes in the mountainous region of around five million.
“Most of the internally displaced people left with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing. They are usually traumatized and tell of the difficult journey they have taken in search of safety. Some reported walking for two weeks and some up to 500 km, ”Said said.
“Among the people who traveled with them, some were reportedly killed – in particular young people, people were allegedly beaten, women were allegedly raped, some were pregnant and gave birth losing their babies,” he said. she declared.
This week, Abiy recognized for the first time that the atrocities, like rape, had been committed and said that any soldier who committed crimes would be punished.
Dozens of witnesses in Tigray said Eritrean soldiers civilians killed regularly, women raped and tortured collectively, and looted households and crops. Eritrea did not respond to questions about reports of atrocities.