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UN calls for rights groups access to Tigray

UN calls for rights groups access to Tigray
A man stands in front of his destroyed house in the village of Bisober in Ethiopia's Tigray region, on December 9, 2020   -  
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The United Nations has again called for full access to Ethiopia's Tigray region to investigate alleged human rights violations.

Ethiopia's army has been fighting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a small band of insurgents who became a guerrilla arm, for almost seven weeks.

The conflict has displaced almost 950,000 people, many of them have fled to neighbouring Sudan.

Access for humanitarian workers had been impossible until recently. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said two humanitarian assessment missions were able to enter the region on Monday.

Violations of international humanitarian law

Rights workers also want access on the ground to verify reports.

"We have received allegations concerning violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, including artillery strikes on populated areas, the deliberate targeting of civilians, extrajudicial killings and widespread looting”, Bachelet said.

“Fighting is said to be continuing, particularly in some areas of north, central and southern Tigray.”

One of the events of alleged atrocities she mentioned was the alleged killing of several hundred people, mainly Amharans, in the northwestern town of Mai Kadra on Nov. 9.

“I urge the authorities to build on the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission’s preliminary findings into what happened in Mai Kadra”, she said, about the panel’s report that a Tigrayan youth militia was responsible, supported by local security forces.

“It is essential that there are investigations into allegations of human rights violations there against both Amharans and Tigrayans.”

The High Commissioner also pointed to multiple reports that the Amhara “Fano” militia had committed human rights abuses, including killing civilians and looting.

The UNHCR on Tuesday launched an urgent appeal for $156 million to aid 130,000 people affected by the ongoing violence.

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