African Union, UN blamed for violence in Tigray region, Ethiopia
NAIROBI, Kenya - Amnesty International has sharply criticized the African Union and the United Nations over the escalating conflict in the Tigray region, in which the world has fairly failed to intervene despite efforts the bring the war to an end.
Since November 2020, the Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] with assistance from Eritrea and Amhara troops have descended in the region causing a massive humanitarian crisis, which has now attracted the attention of the international community.
According to reports, over 60,000 people have been displaced from their families and are facing acute shortages in refugee camps in Sudan. The UN and AU had called for de-escalation of the crisis but the ENDF is said to be still targeting Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF].
In a statement on Tuesday, Amnesty International accused AU, UN, and the international community of doing little to end the war. Ethiopia's PM Abiy Ahmed had pledged to end the crisis but reports indicate that very little has been done.
“Six months on from the start of the conflict in Tigray, there is no lack of credible evidence of human rights and international humanitarian law violations, but the response from the African Union and United Nations has been woefully insufficient,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.
“The UN Security Council stalled for months before finally expressing concern about the increasingly dire situation in Tigray. The African Union and governments in the region, meanwhile, have done very little to speak out against the raft of likely war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
According to Amnesty International, the Ethiopian government has ignored Amnesty International’s requests to access Tigray, making it challenging to verify allegations of human rights violations amid severe, ongoing communications restrictions.
However, Amnesty International has been able to document numerous atrocities in detail using open-source investigative methods – including satellite imagery analysis and verification of video evidence – as well as by interviewing dozens of survivors, either via telephone with people in Tigray or in-person with refugees in eastern Sudan.
She also raised questions about the ongoing violence targeting women and children, adding that many women and girls have been raped or sexually assaulted by the troops who have been pursuing TPLF fighters.
“It is unconscionable that women and girls in Tigray are facing sexual violence while the world looks on. Meanwhile, hospitals and humanitarian providers have had supplies decimated in the conflict and are ill-equipped to assist,” said Deprose Muchena.
Notably, the AI also cited recent violence and violations against civilians in other parts of Ethiopia, most notably in Amhara, Benishangul, and Oromia regional states.
There have been reports of attacks on civilians in Chilga District, North Shewa Zone, and Oromo Special Zone of Amhara region, and armed violence in Metekel Zone of Benishangul-Gumuz Region. In western Oromia Zones, armed people killed and displaced Amhara residents since November 2020.
“It is imperative that international, independent investigations are carried out into the allegations of serious violations by all sides, with those responsible held to account, to send a clear message that there will be zero impunity,” said Deprose Muchena.
“If the international community’s tepid response to the conflict in Tigray continues, there is a real threat that the already dire situation could spiral completely out of control.”