Ethiopian and Eritrean troops have raped hundreds of women and girls during the Tigray war, subjecting some to sexual slavery and mutilation, Amnesty International said in a report Wednesday.
Drawing from interviews with 63 survivors, the report sheds new light on a scourge already being investigated by Ethiopian law enforcement officials, with at least three soldiers convicted and 25 others charged.
Some survivors said they had been gang-raped while held captive for weeks on end. Others described being raped in front of their family members.
Ethiopian government forces have been systematically raping and abusing hundreds of women and girls in the current conflict in Tigray, according to a new report from Amnesty International.
Adding to a growing body of evidence that rape is being used as a weapon of war in the northern region of Ethiopia, Amnesty’s research offers a snapshot of the extent of the crimes in an area where communications with the outside world have been deliberately restricted by federal authorities.
‘Severity and scale’ of sexual crimes committed by Ethiopian and Eritrean troops amount to war crimes, the rights group says.
Ethiopian and Eritrean troops have raped hundreds of women and girls during the Tigray war, subjecting some to sexual slavery and mutilation, human rights group Amnesty International has said in a 36-page report.
Drawing from interviews with 63 survivors, the report (PDF) published on Wednesday sheds new light on a scourge already being investigated by Ethiopian law enforcement officials, with at least three soldiers convicted and 25 others charged.
Fighting in northern Ethiopia may intensify further after the nation’s Nobel-laureate leader urged citizens to join the army and militias, which may add to the misery caused by nine months of civil war between the federal government and dissidents in the Tigray region.
About 300,000 people are facing “emergency levels of hunger” in Ethiopia’s Amhara and Afar states, where Tigrayan forces began an offensive after regaining most of their territory from government troops in June, the World Food Programme said on Monday. That’s in addition to about 5.2 million people in Tigray who’ve been impacted by the conflict and desperately need food aid.
From time to time, a body floating down the river separating Ethiopia’s troubled Tigray region from Sudan was a silent reminder of a war conducted in the shadows. But recently, the corpses became a flow.
Bloated, drained of color from their journey, the bodies were often mutilated: genitals severed, eyes gouged, a missing limb. The Sudanese fishermen who spotted them, and the refugees from Tigray who helped pull them to shore, found many corpses’ hands bound. Some of them had been shot.
The Associated Press reported dozens of bodies floating down the Tekeze River last week and saw six of the graves on Wednesday, marking the first time any reporters could reach the scene. Doctors who saw the bodies said one was tattooed with a common name in the Tigrinya language and others had the facial markings common among Tigrayans, raising fresh alarm about atrocities in the least-known area of the Tigray war.
Six more bodies have been found floating down the river separating Ethiopia’s troubled Tigray region from Sudan, refugees and a physician said on Saturday. They urged Sudanese authorities and the U.N. to help in search efforts.
Around 50 bodies have been discovered over the last two weeks in the Setit River, which flows through some of the most troubled areas of the nine-month conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, according to Tigray refugees.
Speaking in Geneva, Martin Griffiths highlighted the urgency of the situation for all those affected in the northern Ethiopian region, after eight months of fighting between Government forces and those loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Earlier this week, the UN senior official warned that 200,000 people had been displaced by fighting in neighbouring Amhara region, along with more than 50,000 in Afar.
“This war has to stop, this war has to end; we will all of us continue to try to make sure that those 100 trucks a day reach Mekelle, reach the beneficiaries”, Mr. Griffiths insisted. “We will do everything we can to help the people affected in Amhara and Afar, while continuing the work in other parts of Ethiopia.”
“There’s famine now in Tigray.” That 10 June 2021 declaration by the UN’s most senior humanitarian official was the clearest indication yet that embattled Tigray faced a severe food emergency. Close to five million Tigrayans were subsequently placed under watch for what constitutes emergency level conditions.
The affected population now falls under emergency (phase four) and famine (phase five) of the Famine Early Warning System Network classification. A famine is declared when households have an extreme lack of food even after they’ve used all available coping strategies. It’s when starvation, death, destitution, and extremely critical acute malnutrition levels are evident.
The head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said on Wednesday during a visit to Ethiopia that she had raised her concerns about “dehumanising rhetoric” with authorities, amid war in the country’s northern Tigray region.
Samantha Power’s visit to the country, and to neighbouring Sudan, this week follows warnings from U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration of punitive measures against the Ethiopian government if aid is unable to reach the Tigray region.
The head of the U.S. Agency for International Development expressed concern Wednesday about the “dehumanizing rhetoric” used by Ethiopia’s leaders amid the nine-month conflict in the Tigray region, whose forces last month were described as “weeds” and “cancer” by the country’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister, Abiy Ahmed.