Airstrikes have killed at least 304 civilians since late November in Ethiopia’s war-torn north, especially in the Tigray region, the UN human rights chief said Monday.
The rights and security situation in Ethiopia had “deteriorated significantly” since late November, Michelle Bachelet told the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Bachelet said her office had “continued to receive reports of severe and wide-scale human rights violations” in the Afar, Amhara and Tigray regions.
She voiced particular concern at the large number of air strikes apparently carried out by the Ethiopian Air Force, mainly in Tigray but also in Afar.
Her office had recorded “304 killings and injuries to 373 people resulting from aerial bombardments during the reporting period.”
Her report covered the period between November 22, 2021 and February 28 this year.
Bachelet stressed that attacks on civilians and civilian objects had also been carried out by other parties to the conflict.
Tigrayan forces, she said, had used heavy weaponry to attack several areas of Afar on January 24. “Credible sources indicate that there were severe civilian casualties,” she added.
Bachelet denounced other serious violations committed in the conflict, which began in November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray after accusing the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), of attacks on federal army camps.
In an update to #HRC49, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that #Ethiopia’s human rights and security situation had deteriorated significantly, mostly due to the spread of the conflict beyond #Tigray.
— UN Human Rights Council 📍 #HRC49 (@UN_HRC) March 7, 2022
The war has killed thousands, displaced many more and pushed hundreds of thousands to the brink of famine, according to the United Nations.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights voiced alarm at numerous reports of rape and sexual violence.
Between November 1 and December 5 last year alone, the UN rights office had received reports of “306 rape incidents by Tigrayan forces in the Amhara region,” Bachelet said.
She also decried “severe damage to schools and health facilities in Amhara and Afar regions following government actions against Tigrayan forces.”
Tigrayan forces also destroyed and looted numerous health facilities in Amhara and Afar, she said.
The UN rights chief said the attacks and violence seen in northern Ethiopia “raise serious concerns under international humanitarian law, which prohibits the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian objects.”
It also bans “indiscriminate attacks that strike military objects and civilians without distinction”, she said.
The “hostilities and insecurity continue to block the delivery of humanitarian supplies into Tigray,” she added.
“I urge all sides to allow unhindered humanitarian access to affected areas, including regional security forces.”