UN rights chief condemns Ethiopia for ‘dire’ humanitarian situation
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UN rights chief condemns Ethiopia for ‘dire’ humanitarian situation

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet condemned the humanitarian crisis in Tigray, Ethiopia, in a statement delivered Monday at the forty-seventh session of the Human Rights Council.

Bachelet said that Eritrean soldiers in Tigray “perpetrate violations of human rights and humanitarian law.” The UN estimates that more than 350,000 persons in Tigray are living in a famine. Tigray has been in a war since early November that has devastated Tigray’s social, economic and political conditions. The conflict is “linked to clashes between central government troops and forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.” The Tigray People’s Liberation Front is a banned former political party now listed in the Global Terrorism Database.

Bachelet commented:

I am deeply disturbed by continued reports of serious violations of international humanitarian law and gross human rights violations and abuses against civilians by all parties to the conflict, including extrajudicial executions; arbitrary arrests and detentions; sexual violence against children as well as adults; and forced displacement.

The UN, alongside the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, began an investigation into the Tigray conflict in March. Investigators have been in Tigray since May. Bachelet said the organizations will publicize their findings and recommendations after August.

Beyond Tigray’s humanitarian crisis, Bachelet noted that Ethiopia as a whole is facing “alarming incidents of deadly ethnic and inter-communal violence and displacement,” which she said are connected to “increasing polarization about longstanding grievances.” In response to those grievances, she recommended “comprehensive and multidimensional dialogue throughout the country,” rather than the non-durable solution of deploying military forces.

Bachelet addressed over one dozen other countries, setting out her similar concerns. Those countries included Lebanon, Afghanistan, China, particularly its Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and Mozambique.

Bachelet encouraged those countries to introduce social justice policies. She believes that in turn, such policies strengthen economies, “drive more inclusive political systems,” and improve trust and hope.