Air strikes have killed at least 304 civilians in war-torn northern Ethiopia since late November, especially in the tigray region, the UN human rights chief said Monday.
The rights and security situation in Ethiopia had “deteriorated significantly” since late November, Michelle Bachelet told the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Bachelet said her office “continued to receive reports of serious and widespread human rights violations” in the Afar, Amhara and Tigray regions.
In particular, she expressed concern about the high number of air strikes apparently carried out by the Ethiopian Air Force, mainly in Tigray but also in Afar.
Her office had “recorded 304 homicides and injuries of 373 people as a result of aerial bombing” during the reporting period.
Her report covered the period between November 22, 2021 and February 28 of this year.
Bachelet emphasized that attacks on civilians and civilian objects had also been carried out by other parties to the conflict.
Tigrayan forces, she said, had used heavy weapons to attack several areas of Afar on Jan. 24. “Credible sources indicate that there have been serious civilian casualties,” she added.
Bachelet denounced other serious violations in the conflict, which began in November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to Tigray after accusing the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), of attacking federal army camps.
– Ethiopia: ‘random attacks’ –
According to the United Nations, the war has killed thousands, displaced many more and pushed hundreds of thousands to the brink of starvation.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has raised the alarm over numerous reports of rape and sexual assault.
Between November 1 and December 5 alone, the UN law office had received reports of “306 incidents of rape by Tigrayan troops in the Amhara region,” Bachelet said.
She also denounced “serious damage to schools and health facilities in the Amhara and Afar regions following government actions against Tigrayan forces”.
Tigrayan forces have also destroyed and looted numerous health facilities in Amhara and Afar, she said.
The UN chief of rights said the attacks and violence in northern Ethiopia is “of serious concern under international humanitarian law, which prohibits the deliberate attack on civilians and civilian objects”.
It also prohibits “arbitrary attacks targeting military objects and civilians indiscriminately,” she said.
The “hostility and insecurity continue to block the delivery of humanitarian relief supplies in Tigray,” she added.
“I urge all parties to allow unimpeded humanitarian access to the affected areas, including regional security forces.”