Thursday, June 17, 2021
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HomeWorldGrave Concerns Over 'Dire' And Deteriorating Situation In War-torn Tigray Region

Grave Concerns Over ‘Dire’ And Deteriorating Situation In War-torn Tigray Region


UN humanitarians expressed deep concern on Friday
about serious and ongoing abuses carried out against
displaced civilians who are also facing dire food insecurity
in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, after months of
conflict.

In an alert, the UN sexual and
reproductive health agency, UNFPA, said
that it was aware of “gross violations”, including
gender-based violence in the war-torn north.

Vile
attacks

“The situation of women and adolescent
girls in Tigray and border areas of Amhara and Afar remains
dire”, said UNFPA Executive Director
Natalia
Kanem
. “We see alarming levels of sexual violence, and
thousands of women lack access to health and protection
services.”

In a related development, the Office of
the High Commissioner for refugee agency (UNHCR) condemned the
reported abduction of “at least several hundred” youths
from camps for displaced people in Tigray earlier this
week.

This echoed prior comments by the UN
Humanitarian Coordinator in Ethiopia
, Catherine Sozi,
who condemned the reported arbitrary arrests, beatings and
ill-treatment by soldiers of more than 200 people during
night-time military raids on internal displacement camps in
the region on Monday.

Ms. Sozi noted that the affected
sites of Tsehaye and Adi Wonfito in Shire town were home to
12,000 internally displaced persons in total.

Trauma
and distress

“The situation is traumatic and
distressing, not only for the relatives of the missing, but
for all the displaced communities residing in Shire”, UNHCR
spokesperson Babar Baloch told journalists in Geneva, adding
that the agency was in contact with the Ethiopian
authorities on the issue. “It is crucial that all parties
to the conflict recognize the civilian and humanitarian
character of these sites hosting displaced
people”.

Fighting began in Tigray on 4 November last
year between national Government forces and regional power
brokers loyal to the former national ruling party, the
Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

Needs are
growing

Some parts of the war-torn region have
remained accessible but overall, “grave” needs are
outstripping capacity, with most rural areas “cut from
communications and electricity”, according to the Office
for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The
Central Area – which is the most populated, with some 1.8
million people –remains largely inaccessible, Ms. Sozi’s
team noted.

If nothing is done to improve aid access
immediately, UN humanitarians believe that there is a high
risk of mass severe acute malnutrition looming in the next
few months.

Characterizing the situation as “complex
and unpredictable”, OCHA said
that civilians, who continue to bear the brunt of the
conflict, have been forced to move to towns including Shire,
Axum and Adwa.

“The main road between Adigrat and
Axum was blocked from 10 to 22 April due to hostilities,
impacting several humanitarian convoys, including emergency
food aid, as well as the provision of medical supplies to
Axum and Adwa Hospitals”, the UN humanitarian body
reported.

Release call

In her appeal for the
immediate release of those arbitrarily arrested from
Shire’s displacement camps, Ms. Sozi said that serious
violations of international humanitarian and human rights
law must be promptly investigated and the perpetrators
brought to justice. 
“We, along with our partners,
are ready to engage with military commanders to ensure the
protection of civilians”, the Humanitarian Coordinator
said on
Thursday.

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