from ADANE BIKILA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA, (CAJ News) – AN ethnic nationalist paramilitary group has raped, robbed and subjected women to physical and verbal assaults.
This as the crisis in northern Ethiopia spills to neighbouring regions.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is accused of the crimes as well as destroying and looting medical facilities as the fighting moved to the Afar and Amhara and other neighbouring regions.
More than 70 women alleged rape, a majority of them gang-raped and others at gunpoint, during the groups attack on Ahmara’s Nifas Mewcha town in mid-August.
TPLF took control of Nifas Mewcha, in Amhara’s Giant District, for nine days between 12 and 21 August 2021, as part of an ongoing offensive into parts of the Amhara and Afar regions.
Amnesty International disclosed regional government officials reported the rapes to the human rights group.
Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said testimonies from survivors described despicable acts by TPLF fighters that amounted to war crimes, and potentially crimes against humanity.
“They (crimes) defy morality or any iota of humanity,” Callamard said.
The regional Women, Children and Youth Affairs, reports that 71 women reported rape by TPLF fighters during the period in question.
The Federal Ministry of Justice puts the number at 73.
Regional government officials reported Nifas Mewcha residents, including 54 rape survivors, had received livelihood support since the attack.
They also said they are preparing to restock medical equipment and other supplies to looted hospitals and facilities and to provide counselling and psychosocial services for survivors.
Human Rights Watch on Wednesday said the Ethiopian government’s blocking of aid was preventing sexual violence survivors from getting post-rape care.
Tigray has been in crisis since last November when the regional government defied the national administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
– CAJ News