The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has expressed concerns for the continuing lack of overall humanitarian access, coupled with an ongoing communications blackout in many areas, in the conflict-ridden Tigray region for Ethiopia and underscored the need for independent human rights monitors to be given access to Tigray to adequately assess the human suffering resulting from the conflict, verify allegations and to help ensure accountability for violations.
“While we welcome the Ethiopian Government’s statement that there would be unimpeded humanitarian access, in line with the agreement with the UN signed on 29 November, this needs to be to all areas of Tigray where civilians have been affected by the fighting,” Bachelet said, noting that two humanitarian assessment missions were able to enter Tigray on Monday.
“We have received allegations concerning violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, including artillery strikes on populated areas, the deliberate targeting of civilians, extrajudicial killings and widespread looting,” said the High Commissioner.
“These reports point to failure by the parties to the conflict to protect civilians. This is all the more concerning given that fighting is said to be continuing, particularly in some areas of north, central and southern Tigray,” she said.
“What has happened in Tigray over these past seven weeks is as heart-breaking as it is appalling. Despite the Ethiopian Government’s initial efforts to provide humanitarian aid in some areas, it is vital that life-saving assistance is delivered to all civilian populations in need without further delay,” the High Commissioner said.
“To avoid continued conflict and loss of life, Ethiopia should address its longstanding ethnic divides through accountability, inclusive dialogue, reconciliation and respect for human rights,” she stressed.