Nairobi – Tigrayan authorities “have always maintained” that Ethiopia’s government was responsible for crimes against humanity in Tigray, a spokesman for the rebels said Monday after UN investigators accused Addis Ababa of war crimes.
“We have always maintained that,” Getachew Reda, a spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, told AFP in response to Monday’s announcement by the Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia that accused Addis Ababa of committing atrocities in the conflict-torn northern region.
The commission said it had found evidence of a wide range of violations in the country by all sides since fighting erupted nearly two years ago between forces loyal to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the TPLF.
The commission, created by the UN Human Rights Council last year and made up of three independent rights experts, said it had “reasonable grounds to believe that, in several instances, these violations amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity”.
The two sides had agreed to a tentative truce in March but fresh clashes last month dashed hopes of possible peace talks, with the commission warning that the resumption of fighting also raised the risk of “further atrocity crimes”.
Getachew said the TPLF agreed with “most of” the conclusions reached by the commission but did not elaborate further.
The experts highlighted the horrifying situation in rebel-held Tigray, where access to basic services remains severely limited and restrictions on humanitarian aid have left 90 percent of the population in dire need of assistance.
In a statement, commission chair Kaari Betty Murungi described the humanitarian crisis in Tigray as “shocking, both in terms of scale and duration”.
“The widespread denial and obstruction of access to basic services, food, healthcare, and humanitarian assistance is having a devastating impact on the civilian population, and we have reasonable grounds to believe it amounts to a crime against humanity,” she said.
“We also have reasonable grounds to believe that the Federal Government is using starvation as a method of warfare,” she added, calling on the government to “immediately restore basic services and ensure full and unfettered humanitarian access”.
Murungi also called on Tigrayan forces to “ensure that humanitarian agencies are able to operate without impediment”.