Today the United States raised again in the Security Council its grave concern regarding the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and credible reports that Eritrean forces are re-uniforming as Ethiopian military in order to remain in Tigray indefinitely. The Eritrean government must withdraw its forces from Ethiopia immediately.
We are horrified by the reports of rape and other unspeakably cruel sexual violence that continue to surface. The degradation and trauma associated with these attacks will have long-term effects on the affected communities. We condemn all sexual violence and demand perpetrators be brought to justice.
Lowcock said humanitarian organizations had hoped things would improve after Abiy announced in late March that Eritrean troops would leave Tigray, but he said neither the U.N. nor the aid groups it works with have seen any proof of withdrawal.
“We have, however, heard some reports of Eritrean soldiers now wearing Ethiopian Defense Force uniforms,” he said. “And regardless of uniform or insignia, humanitarian staff continue to report new atrocities which they say are being committed by Eritrean Defense Forces.”
As an example, Lowcock cited an Amnesty International report that Eritrean troops killed three people and wounded 19 Monday “in an unprovoked, indiscriminate shooting attack on civilians in Adwa town.”
“In all my years as an aid worker, I have rarely seen a humanitarian response so impeded and unable to deliver in response for so long, to so many with such pressing needs. As an international community, we are clearly failing to deliver against the humanitarian imperative we are facing.
It is false to say that aid is increasingly getting through. Aid has only gone to the places with little conflict and more limited needs and is not keeping pace with the humanitarian crisis as it inevitably grows over time. Millions of women, children and men, including refugees, are in a truly desperate situation, suffering alone without aid or protection."
Of 106 health facilities visited by MSF teams between mid-December 2020 and early March 2021, nearly 70% had been looted, and more than 30% had been damaged; just 13% were functioning normally.
In some health facilities across Tigray, the looting of health facilities continues, according to MSF teams. While some looting may have been opportunistic, health facilities in most areas appear to have been deliberately vandalised to make them non-functional. In many health centres, such as in Debre Abay and May Kuhli in North-West Tigray, teams found destroyed equipment, smashed doors and windows, and medicine and patient files scattered across floors.
This report takes a look at some of the background to the conflict that engulfed Tigray last November