NEW YORK, 8 February 2021 – The United Nations has warned that “the risk of atrocity crimes in Ethiopia remains high and likely to get worse”, unless urgent action is taken.
The alarm bells are coming from the Kenyan-born United Nations Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu.
Her office said it has received numerous reports of serious human rights violations and abuses by parties to the armed conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region but also elsewhere in the country.
“We were not speaking about just the Tigray region itself, although the fighting is going on, but we also have reports from other areas,” Wairimu Nderitu told the BBC’s Newsday program.
Atrocity crimes refer to three legally. defined international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crmes.
The three are outlined in the 1948 Geneva Convention.
“What we need is for the Ethiopian government to establish rule of law and an impartial investigation to be held to ensure accountability for serious violations,” she added, explaining that atrocity crimes do not happen overnight.
The UN official stressed the need for the root causes leading to the atrocity crimes to be addressed urgently.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister Aby Ahmed sent federal forces into Tigray on 4 November 2020 after soldiers of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) reportedly attacked an army base, killing 50 soldiers and stealing weapons.
In December 2020, Addis Ababa said its forces had recaptured Tigray and retaken control of the capital.
While Addis Ababa says Tigray is calm and life is being restored to normal, the United Nations has said the armed conflict continues in several parts of Tigray.
Nearly two million people have been internally displaced by the fighting and over 60,000 people have fled into refugee camps in neighboring Sudan.