Warring parties in Ethiopia continue to commit human rights abuses after a year, says HRW

Human Rights Watch has reported ongoing fighting and serious human rights abuses in northern Ethiopia, despite the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement a year ago.

The conflict between the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian government started in the Tigray region towards the end of 2020.

The Tigray people, who account for approximately 6% of Ethiopia’s population, held political power in the country for 27 years until Abiy Ahmed became the current prime minister. They were concerned that Ahmed was planning to dismantle Ethiopia’s multiethnic federation.

The conflict accounted for over 100,000 deaths. Two years later, in November of 2022, the Ethiopian federal government and the TPLF agreed to a cessation of hostilities and signed an agreement led by the African Union.

The AU agreement between the Ethiopian federal government and the TPLF outlined vital measures to protect civilians, resume essential services, provide unhindered humanitarian assistance, enable internally displaced people to return to their original areas and create a transitional justice policy.

According to Human Rights Watch, the agreement did not end the violence and human rights abuses faced by civilians,  “Fighting has intensified in other regions of the country, as past violators repeat patterns of abuses without consequences.”

During the past year, the warring parties have committed human rights abuses in Tigray, including but not limited to executions, pillaging and sexual violence. They have impeded the work of AU monitors and obstructed humanitarian assistance.

Conferring to a UN Human Rights Council report, the human rights abuses go beyond Tigray, where civilians were subjected to drone strikes, extrajudicial executions and large-scale detentions. In addition, the conflict generally placed over 20 million Ethiopians in emergency relief.

The situation in Ethiopia is being closely monitored by international organizations such as the UN, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, along with regional groups like the African Union. They are taking assertive measures to ensure that peace and safety are achieved and sustained in the country.

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