Ethiopia's civil war ended with a ceasefire between Tigray rebels about 10 months ago, but a new UN report revealed this week that human rights abuses, torture and rape continue in Ethiopia's northern region.
The report, compiled by a team of Eritrean experts who have been in contact with local residents, describes how acts of rape and gender-based violence have become widespread in the northwest of the region, where Eritrean militias and forces still operate freely. The report claims that the Ethiopian government is aware of – and even facilitates acts in silence.
Of Tigray's six million people, nearly 5.4 million depend entirely on humanitarian aid, including food, medicine and shelter. But the UN food aid program was halted altogether in April after an organized government plot to steal and sell food products coming from the United Nations was exposed.
IDPs from Western Tigrai in Shire dying from lack of food. pic.twitter.com/M8eaAUpNKq
— Tigrai Television (@Tigrai_TV) September 16, 2023
Radika Kumarswamy, who heads the UN research team, wrote: "Entire families have been killed, relatives have been forced to watch the horrific crimes against their loved ones while entire communities have been displaced." The team estimated that 10,000 former people have survived sexual assault during the conflict and are in need of assistance.
"Sexual violence and executions"
Meron Tafari, a second-year education student at Ono Academic College, returned to Tigray, bleeding from the civil war, where her father and part of her family live. In a conversation with Israel Hayom, she talks about the intolerable situation in the region and calls on the Israeli public to press for action to help its residents.
"Western Tigray is still under heavy siege and without access to life-saving aid such as food and medicine. They are under attack by Eritrea, the Fano militias and the Ethiopian Federal Army. The health situation of the residents borders on total disaster. The residents need teams of volunteers and lots of humanitarian aid in order to restore some degree of normalcy to their lives."
Refugees from western Tigray in a displaced persons camp, photo: Meron Tafari
Teferi argues that the ceasefire did not stop the horrors of the war. During her visit, she heard about countless barbaric acts carried out daily in Tigray. "A large number of friends, neighbors and acquaintances have told me about sexual violence, executions, looting and destruction throughout Tigray. The aerial bombardments have not stopped either, and hundreds of people are being killed due to lack of basic medical equipment," says the Israeli student. "On a visit to one of the areas, we heard from one of our guides about a seven-month-old baby girl who was murdered by Eritrean militias in his village," she adds.
During her visit to the region, Tafari repeatedly heard about the war experiences of recent years. "It's very hard to hear from the people closest to me, my family, that they experienced death every day and felt saved when they weren't massacred in the terrible violence that took place in the area. Everyone's experiences were the same: hundreds of bodies in the streets, to the point where you can't see the sidewalk. The militias forbade the inhabitants to bury the dead as punishment, they had to see the remains of their loved ones eaten by animals. Women have experienced sexual violence and abuse including amputation and prolonged ligation in the cold and rain."
A refugee child in the DP camps in Tigray,
Teferi describes unimaginable atrocities committed during the war and continue under the cover of the ceasefire, without the world intervening. "It's hard to describe what I heard there. Children were executed and thrown into toilet pits. Mothers and clerics were raped in front of their families. Hospitals were a favorite target of the militias, they were destroyed and doctors executed. I saw hundreds of children wandering the streets without any protection or assistance because their families had been murdered. They are hungry and have no ability to take care of themselves," she says.
"The question of aid is the biggest question in the world of wars, hatred and destruction," Tafari says, calling on the world in general and Israel in particular to do everything possible to help. "We need to engage in social action, recruit teams of doctors and professionals for prolonged volunteering in order to train therapists who can provide solutions later on. In addition, justice must be strongly condemned and provided for all those harmed because of their ethnicity. Just as the world has mobilized to help the Ukrainian people who are under aggression, we must also mobilize for the people of Tigray."
Wrong? We'll fix it! If you find a mistake in the article, please share with us