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IPIS Briefing March 2021 – Ethiopia-Tigray Conflict

Source: IPIS Briefing March 2021

Ethiopian police arrest 359 for suspected murder and illicit arms trade | 29 March 2021 | Xinhua

The Ethiopian Federal Police Commission disclosed the arrest of 359 people on suspicion of murder, illicit arms trade, money laundering and auto theft, the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported Sunday.

Scale of Tigray horror adds to pressure on Ethiopian leader | 28 March 2021 | The Guardian

Pressure is mounting on Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, as the scale of horrors from his war against the northern Tigray region gradually emerge, revealing massacres, mass sexual violence and fears of ethnic cleansing.

Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: MSF ‘witnessed soldiers killing civilians’ | 25 March 2021 | BBC

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff say they witnessed the extrajudicial killing of four civilians by Ethiopian soldiers in Tigray earlier this week.

Men forced to rape family members in Ethiopia’s Tigray, says U.N. | 25 March 2021 | Reuters

More than 500 rape cases have been reported to five clinics in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the United Nations said on Thursday, warning that due to stigma and a lack of health services the actual numbers were likely to be much higher.

Why the Tigray investigation should be conducted by the UN, alone | 25 March 2021 | African Arguments

Probe announced into alleged Tigray rights violations: UN rights office | 25 March 2021 | UN News

Any probe into war crimes that involves the AU or the government’s own human rights commission stands little chance of being effective.

Atrocity Alert No. 245: Niger, Myanmar (Burma) and Ethiopia | 25 March 2021 | Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect | ReliefWeb

Physicians treating survivors of sexual violence in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region claim that rape is being used as a weapon of war against the ethnic Tigrayan population. A CNN report cited testimony from nine doctors recounting that women are being gang-raped, drugged and held hostage. Doctors said that the perpetrators – the Ethiopian federal forces and allied Eritrean soldiers – were operating with impunity.

Ethiopie : Abiy Ahmed admet (finalement) la présence de forces érythréennes dans le Tigré | 24 March 2021 | Agence Ecofin

Depuis le début de la crise au Tigré en novembre 2020, plusieurs rapports d’ONG ont accusé les armées érythréennes et éthiopiennes d’exactions dans la région. Malgré les témoignages recueillis auprès des réfugiés, Abiy Ahmed et son homologue érythréen ont toujours réfuté ces allégations.

Eritreans Behind Atrocity in Northern Ethiopia, Report Finds | 24 March 2021 | Bloomberg

More than a hundred people were killed last November by Eritrean forces in the northern Ethiopian town of Axum, according to the Ethiopian independent human rights body.

U.N. calls for stop to ‘horrific’ sexual violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray | 23 March 2021 | Reuters

A dozen top United Nations officials on Monday called for a stop to indiscriminate and targeted attacks against civilians in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, particularly calling out reports of rape and “other horrific forms of sexual violence.”

Ethiopia’s leader says atrocities reported in Tigray war | 23 March 2021 | The Associated Press

Ethiopia’s leader on Tuesday said atrocities have been reported in Tigray, his first public acknowledgment of possible war crimes in the country’s northern region where fighting persists as government troops hunt down its fugitive leaders.

Statement on Gender-Based Violence in Tigray region of Ethiopia | 22 March 2021 | WHO

Amid a worsening humanitarian situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, reports of indiscriminate and targeted attacks against civilians, including rape and other horrific forms of sexual violence, continue to surface. This must stop.

EU slaps sanctions on Eritrea over human rights abuses | 22 March 2021 | Reuters

The European Union on Monday imposed sanctions on Eritrea over human rights violations and blacklisted the country’s National Security Office, which is tasked with intelligence gathering, arrests and interrogations.

Who is lobbying in the Ethiopia conflict as Coons heads to Addis Ababa | 19 March 2021 | Politico

The White House said Thursday it is dispatching Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a top ally of President Joe Biden, to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to meet with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at the president’s request to convey the administration’s “grave concerns about the humanitarian crisis and human rights abuses in the Tigray region,” according to a statement from national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Tigray’s women affairs, communications bureaus confirm sexual violence in the region is rampant | 18 March 2021 | Addis Standard

A report published by DW Amharic suggested that the number of women who have been subjected to sexual violence during the conflict in Tigray regional state is unknown. The interim administration of the region stated that more than 500 women have been raped in the region’s capital, Mekelle, Adigrat and its environs between November and February alone. Up to three women come to Ayder hospital in Mekelle each day. It is said that the number doesn’t give the full picture as most victims do not make it to the hospital.

UN Rights Chief Agrees to Ethiopia Request for Joint Tigray Inquiry | 17 March 2021 | VoA

United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has agreed to an Ethiopian request for a joint investigation in the country’s northern Tigray region, where Bachelet says possible war crimes may have been committed.

Ethiopia: Hundreds executed, thousands homeless – the human cost of fighting in Tigray | 17 March 2021 | Sky News

The breadth and depth of human suffering in the Ethiopian region of Tigray is perfectly clear to humanitarian workers, human rights groups and the international diplomatic community.

Ethiopia’s Amhara Seizes Disputed Territory Amid Tigray War | 16 March 2021 | Bloomberg

An internal conflict in Ethiopia is being used to settle a long-standing territorial dispute between two of its northern states. Forces from the Amhara region took control of several areas in Tigray after backing federal troops that staged an incursion into its neighbor’s territory, said Gizachew Muluneh, a spokesman for the Amhara government. Fighting has continued in Tigray since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered the army to retaliate after forces loyal to Tigray’s ruling party attacked a military camp in November.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Roadmap: a feeble bulwark against atrocity crimes | 16 March 2021 | Ethiopia Insight

In his acceptance speech on 2 April 2018, Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s new prime minister, expressed his intention to bring tectonic changes. And, indeed, Ethiopia has undergone unprecedented political and legal changes since then.

U.S. will not resume assistance to Ethiopia for most security programs | 13 March 2021 | Reuters

The State Department on Friday said Washington has decided not to lift the pause in assistance to Ethiopia for most programs in the security sector, days after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described acts in Tigray as ethnic cleansing.

Tigray: Why are soldiers attacking religious heritage sites? | 12 March 2021 | African Arguments

There are reports of Ethiopian and Eritrea troops going out of their way to loot and destroy beloved churches, mosques and monasteries.

‘People are starving’: New exodus in Ethiopia’s Tigray area | 11 March 2021 | The Associated Press

Skinny, hungry, fleeing threats of violence, thousands of people who have been hiding in rural areas of Ethiopia’s Tigray region have begun arriving in a community that can barely support them — and more are said to be on the way.

Blinken: Acts of ‘ethnic cleansing’ committed in Western Tigray | 10 March 2021 | CNN

Secretary of State Tony Blinken for the first time Wednesday used the term “ethnic cleansing” to describe human rights abuses he said have been carried out in the Western Tigray region of Ethiopia, calling the situation “unacceptable.”

Ethiopia supplies weapons to Sudan rebels in Blue Nile to ‘occupy’ Kurmuk: SUNA | 8 March 2021 | AhramOnline

The Ethiopian government supplied weapons and ammunition to forces of Commander Joseph Tuka in Sudan’s Blue Nile state to help them “occupy” the Sudanese Kurmuk town, Sudan’s official news agency SUNA reported on Sunday.

Brutal Gender-Based Violence in Tigray — A Personal Account | 8 March 2021 | IDN

“A woman in her 40s was found dead on the road to her home. She was found with her hands tied, injured to her head and sexually assaulted. This was in Mekelle. I know her son.” This is what one of our reporters (A.G.), who herself is a young woman, has reported.

The U.N. Must End the Horrors of Ethiopia’s Tigray War | 8 March 2021 | Foreign Policy

Recent human rights investigations confirm the atrocities that journalists reported in November. A strong multilateral push can force an Eritrean withdrawal and put the region on the path to peace.

Young men take up arms in northern Ethiopia as atrocities fuel insurgency | 8 March 2021 | The Guardian

Ethiopian troops and their allies in the restive northern province of Tigray face a growing insurgency fuelled by a series of massacres and other violence targeting civilians.

U.N. seeks access to Ethiopia’s Tigray for war crimes probe | 4 March 2021 | Reuters

The United Nations’ human rights chief asked Ethiopia on Thursday to allow monitors into Tigray to investigate reports of killings and sexual violence that may amount to war crimes in the northern region since late 2020.

Leader of Tigray’s forces accuses Ethiopian and Eritrean governments of genocide | 2 March 2021 | CNN

The ousted leader of Ethiopia’s Tigray region has accused the federal government and its Eritrean allies of genocide and other crimes against humanity, calling on US President Joe Biden to dial up the pressure against “invader forces.”

Ethiopia’s Tigray region: War behind a ‘steel wall’ | 1 March 2021 | Deutsche Welle

Ethiopia has claimed that an Amnesty report painting a dark picture of the Tigray crisis supports misinformation. Now the government has invited journalists to visit Tigray — only to arrest them.

ACLED Regional Overview – Africa (13-19 March 2021) | 24 March 2021 | ACLED | ReliefWeb

Last week in Africa, Islamist militants launched deadly attacks in the border region between Mali and Niger; heavy fighting was reported in the Oromia and Tigray regions of Ethiopia; and a former president declared himself the leader of the Coalition of Patriots for Change rebel alliance in the Central African Republic.

In Ethiopia, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF)/Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) clashed with Amhara regional special police and federal forces in the Ofla area of Southern Tigray. Significant TDF fatalities were reported across two days of fighting. Meanwhile, interethnic clashes involving both state and non-state armed groups from the Oromo and Amhara communities continued in the Amhara region. Members of the Shane splinter faction of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) attacked Amhara civilians in Karakore town and surrounding areas, killing at least 20 people.

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