The United States said on Tuesday evening that it is “gravely concerned by the reports of atrocities, including sexual violence, committed by fighters affiliated with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in the Amhara region of Ethiopia in late August and early September 2021, as described in a recent Amnesty International report.“
“We call on all armed actors to renounce and end all human rights abuses and violence against civilians. It remains our firm position that there must be credible investigations into and accountability for atrocities as part of any lasting solution to the crisis,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
Price added that “continued reports of atrocities underscore the urgency of ending the ongoing military conflict. We continue to engage parties to the conflict to urge a halt to the violence, an end to atrocities, the unhindered provision of life-saving humanitarian assistance, and a peaceful resolution to the conflict.”
Amnesty International said in report released last week Tuesday that fighters affiliated with the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) deliberately killed dozens of people, gang-raped dozens of women and girls – some as young as 14 – and looted private and public property in two areas of northern Ethiopia’s Amhara region.
According to the human rights group, the atrocities were perpetrated in and around Chenna and Kobo in late August and early September 2021, shortly after Tigrayan forces took control of the areas in July. The attacks were often characterized by additional acts of violence and brutality, death threats, and the use of ethnic slurs and derogatory remarks.
In Kobo, Tigrayan forces were apparently lashing out at the civilian population in retaliation for increased resistance from local militias and armed residents.
“Tigrayan forces have shown utter disregard for fundamental rules of international humanitarian law which all warring parties must follow. Evidence is mounting of a pattern of Tigrayan forces committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in areas under their control in the Amhara region from July 2021 onwards. This includes repeated incidents of widespread rape, summary killings and looting, including from hospitals,” said Sarah Jackson, Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes at Amnesty International. “The TPLF leadership must put an immediate end to the atrocities we have documented and remove from its forces anyone suspected of involvement in such crimes.”
The conflict in Tigray, which broke out in November 2020 and spread to other regions of northern Ethiopia from July 2021, has left thousands of people dead and many more displaced or at risk of an increased famine.