Ethiopia’s Tigray Crisis: UN warns of war crimes

[photo: BBC]

Nov, 25th 2020 – The fighting between Ethiopia’s central government and forces in Tigray have raised concerns of possible war crimes in the United Nations.

The United Nation said that it was alarmed by the threat of major hostilities a day before the Ethiopian army said it would advance on Tigray’s capital Mekelle.

Hundreds have been reportedly killed while tens of thousands fled the country. Tigray forces have vowed to continue fighting saying they are ready to die in defense of their rights to administer their region. 

According to AFP news agency, the UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday to discuss the fight in Tigray ended without a statement with African countries reportedly requesting more time to allow for diplomatic efforts by the African Union to continue.

The Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Sunday issued a 72 hour ultimatum to Tigray forces urging them to surrender as they are at a point of no return. Tigray’s forces haave however vowed to keep fighting with their leader Debretsion Gebremichael saying that they are “ready to die in defense of our right to administer our region“.

Ethiopia’s state-appointed Human Rights Commission has in turn accused a youth group from the Tigray region of being behind a massacre earlier this month where more than 600 civilians were killed.

The commission says that the group stabbed and burned t o death the non-Tigrayan residents of the town of Mai-Kadra.

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed “alarm at reports of a heavy build-up of tanks and artillery around Mekelle”.

She has called on all sides to give clear orders to their forces in order to spare civilians. Ms. Bachelet said, “The highly aggressive rhetoric on both sides regarding the fight for Mekelle is dangerously provocative and risks placing already vulnerable and frightened civilians in grave danger. I fear such rhetoric will lead to further violations of international humanitarian law.”

The Ethiopian army on Sunday said that there would be ‘no mercy‘ for Mekelle’s residents when its soldiers “encircle” the city. Ms Bachelet said that such talks could constitute a war crime.

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