White House “horrified” by “ongoing human rights abuses in Ethiopia” as Abiy Ahmed government summons “all capable” citizens to fight and end Tigray war “once and for all”

The White House said on Wednesday that the Biden administration is “horrified” by “ongoing human rights abuses in Ethiopia” following a damning report by Amnesty International that revealed that women and girls have been targeted and raped by fighting forces aligned to the Ethiopian government.

The White House’s reaction came a day after the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, summoned “all capable” citizens to fight in the Tigray war and finish it “once and for all.”

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerkii is welcomed by Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed upon his arrival at Addis Ababa International Airport, Ethiopia, Saturday, July 14, 2018. (AP Photo Mulugeta Ayene) 
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerkii is welcomed by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed upon his arrival at Addis Ababa International Airport, Ethiopia, Saturday, July 14, 2018. (AP Photo Mulugeta Ayene)

“We’re closely engaged with countries in the region, leaders in the region, and certainly horrified by what we’ve seen as ongoing human rights abuses in Ethiopia,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing on Wednesday afternoon.

The report by Amnesty International, ‘I Don’t Know If They Realized I Was A Person’: Rape and Other Sexual Violence in the Conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia‘, detailed how women and girls were subjected to sexual violence by members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), the Eritrean Defense Force (EDF), the Amhara Regional Police Special Force (ASF), and Fano, an Amhara militia group.

Soldiers and militias subjected Tigrayan women and girls to rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, sexual mutilation and other forms of torture, often using ethnic slurs and death threats, said the international human rights organization.

“It’s clear that rape and sexual violence have been used as a weapon of war to inflict lasting physical and psychological damage on women and girls in Tigray. Hundreds have been subjected to brutal treatment aimed at degrading and dehumanizing them,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“The severity and scale of the sexual crimes committed are particularly shocking, amounting to war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. It makes a mockery of the central tenets of humanity. It must stop.

“The Ethiopian government must take immediate action to stop members of the security forces and allied militia from committing sexual violence, and the African Union should spare no effort to ensure the conflict is tabled at the AU Peace and Security Council.”

As peace becomes elusive, on Tuesday, the Ethiopian government called on all “capable” citizens to join the military to end the war in Tigray “once and for all.”

The announcement brought to an end a unilateral ceasefire the government declared on June 28, a decision that will certainly worsen the humanitarian crisis there.

USAID Administrator Samantha Power who was in Ethiopia last week wrote on Twitter on Monday that the situation in Ethiopia was “not a crisis” but “a catastrophe” with 5.2 million people at risk of an unprecedented famine.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who now leads the U.S. Agency for International Development, gives an opening statement at her U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, DC, U.S., March 23, 2021. Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS 
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who now leads the U.S. Agency for International Development, gives an opening statement at her U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, DC, U.S., March 23, 2021. Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS

The Biden administration has so far been engaged during the nine-month conflict that has destabilized the region. But President Biden himself may need to be personally engaged to avert a human tragedy in the Horn of Africa.

In its report, Amnesty International said reports of sexual violence were mostly hidden from the outside world during the first two months of the conflict that began in November 2020, largely because of access restrictions imposed by the Ethiopian government and the communications blackout.

“On top of their suffering and trauma, survivors have been left without adequate support. They must be able to access the services they need and are entitled to – including medical treatment, livelihood assistance, mental healthcare and psychosocial support – which are essential aspects of a survivor-centred response,” said Agnès Callamard.

“We must see all allegations of sexual violence effectively, independently and impartially investigated to ensure survivors receive justice, and an effective reparation program must be established. All parties to the conflict should also ensure unfettered humanitarian access.”

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

Show More
error: Alert: Share This Content !!

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker