Amnesty International denounces a “massacre” in Tigray, where more than 10,000 Ethiopians flee the war | International

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Blood donors for the military campaign carried out by the Ethiopian Army in Tigray sing the national anthem at a stadium in Addis Ababa on Wednesday.EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP

Amnesty International (AI) has claimed to have evidence of a "massacre" committed on the night of November 9, in which "tens or probably hundreds of people" were killed with knives and machetes in the city of Mai Kadra, in the region. from Tigray, from where more than 10,000 Ethiopians are fleeing the war and have entered neighboring Sudan in the past two days. The human rights organization claims it has digitally verified "gruesome photographs and videos of bodies strewn on city streets or being transported on stretchers." According to testimonies collected by AI, the massacre was committed by forces loyal to the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) after having suffered a military defeat, and that the victims were workers who did not participate in the fighting.

"This is a terrible tragedy whose true scope will only tell time, as communications in Tigray remain closed," said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. Most of the bodies were found in the center of the city and along a road that connects this town with Humera. The witnesses, who went to the scene the next day, told AI that the bodies had open wounds made with machetes and knives and that there was no trace of bullets, an end that has been confirmed by this organization after showing the photographs to an independent pathologist.

At least three people told Amnesty International that survivors had informed them that they had been attacked by members of the Tigray Special Police Force and other members of the TPLF. “There was no exchange of shots for the Army to take over the city. But when we walked in, what we saw was devastating. The roads were strewn with corpses, especially in the center of the town, and on the road that connects it with Humera, ”the statement said.

"We urge the governments of neighboring countries to keep their borders open for people who are forced to leave their homes," Clementine Nkweta-Salami, director of the regional office of the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR), which fears that the figure of 10,000 fled Ethiopians will shoot up imminently given the violent escalation of the conflict. "At the same time, we ask the Ethiopian authorities to take measures that allow us to continue providing assistance in safe conditions to refugees and internally displaced persons within Tigray," he adds. The United Nations agency negotiates with both sides to keep humanitarian corridors open. The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, assured this Thursday that the federal Army had "liberated" the western part of the aforementioned region, precisely on the border with Sudan, where there have been intense fighting against the TPLF.

In Tigray there are more than 96,000 Eritreans (the region borders Eritrea) spread over four refugee camps, as well as 100,000 internally displaced persons living in areas close to the conflict. “Roads and electricity are cut, as well as telephone and Internet communications, making contact almost impossible. There is a shortage of fuel and banking services have been interrupted, which has generated a lack of cash, ”says UNHCR.

International agencies cannot bring food

This Thursday, the United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has warned that the agencies cannot supply food and medical supplies to the population of this region because all accesses are blocked. "We have no way of getting food products, medicines and other emergency supplies to the interior of the region, we are increasingly concerned about the protection of the civilian population," OCHA assured through a statement.

The Government of Tigray, led by the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), declared a state of emergency on Thursday. "We do it to defend our people and our sovereignty from invasion by foreigners," in reference to the military actions of the Ethiopian Army, according to a statement read on the regional television network. The conflict broke out on November 4. when Prime Minister Ahmed declared war on the Tigray authorities accusing them of the alleged attack on two military bases, which they deny. Last September, the TPLF organized regional elections unauthorized by Addis Ababa and the two sides broke off relations.

For a week the Ethiopian Army has been bombing positions in Tigray, as confirmed on Wednesday by General Yilma Merdassa, chief of the Air Force, on Ethiopian television Fana BC. "Our objectives have been warehouses for weapons and fuel as well as other facilities that the TPLF board had planned to use," he said. For his part, General Tessema informed the state Ethiopian News Agency that the town of Humera, on the border with Sudan and Eritrea, had been taken over by the Armed Forces and was under their full control.

In Addis Ababa, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, assured this Thursday that Ethiopian troops advancing in the Tigray region had found the bodies of federal soldiers tied up and shot dead. At the same time, the Ethiopian authorities are preparing to bring the TPLF leaders to justice, something that will happen "in the short term," Defense Minister Kenea Yadeta told the state news agency, also explaining that they have Planned to appoint transitional regional authorities. Parliament lifted immunity from 39 Tigray leaders, including regional president Debretsion Gebremichael.

While Ahmed assures that the war will be quick, the African Union (AU) has asked both parties to cease hostilities and respect human rights as well as the protection of civilians. "I follow with concern the escalation of the military confrontation in Ethiopia and I encourage the parties to dialogue to find a peaceful solution," said the president of the AU commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, who at the same time showed the "firm commitment" of this body with Ethiopian national sovereignty.

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