Men are forced to rape their relatives and women are raped in front of their families as a result of horrific sexual violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray, the UN warns.
- Ethiopian and Eritrean armies at war against regional leaders in Tigray
- Troops have been charged with heinous crimes against civilians, including rape
- The UN has warned that women are being raped in front of their families and men are being forced to rape their relatives in a wave of sexual assault
- According to the UN, more than 500 cases have been reported where the actual toll is likely to be higher
Women have been raped at gunpoint and men forced to rape their own relatives amid a wave of horrific sexual violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the United Nations has been told.
Wafaa Said, aid coordinator in Ethiopia, told member states that more than 500 rape cases have been reported in five medical centers in the northern state, but the actual number is likely to be much higher.
“Women say they were raped by armed actors, they also told stories of gang rape, rape in front of family members and men who were forced to rape their own family members under threat of violence,” she said.
Women are raped in front of their families and men are forced to rape their relatives amid violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, UN warns (file image)
It is just the latest terror story to emerge from Tigray since Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced a government offensive against regional leaders in November last year.
Ahmed, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, said the attack targeted the TPLF party that had ruled Ethiopia for three decades until 2012 and continued to rule the Tigray region, defying his efforts to bring it under federal control.
But the attack, which also drags soldiers from neighboring Eritrea, has unleashed a wave of ethnic violence that has left civilians indiscriminately dead, leaving hundreds of thousands displaced and without food.
“Most internally displaced persons left with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing,” Said told the UN on Thursday.
They are generally traumatized and tell stories of the difficult journey they have taken in search of safety. Some reported walking for two weeks and some as much as 300 miles, ” Said said Thursday.
Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers wage five-month war against regional leaders in Tigray, unleashing a wave of ethnic violence targeting civilians (file image)
“ Of the people who traveled with them, some were reportedly murdered, especially young people, people were reportedly beaten, women were raped, some were pregnant and gave birth while losing their babies. ”
The United Nations has expressed concern about atrocities, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has described acts as ethnic cleansing.
Ethiopia rejected Blinken’s claim.
This week, Abiy first acknowledged that atrocities such as rape had been committed and said any soldiers who committed crimes would be punished.
But some of the worst atrocities have been blamed on Eritrean soldiers, meaning Abiy’s ability to act against them is limited.
The Ethiopian government attacked Tigray last November after accusing regional leaders of attacking a military base, leaving the border region in chaos.
Dozens of witnesses in Tigray have told Reuters that Eritrean soldiers routinely murdered civilians, raped and tortured women, and looted households and crops.
Eritrea has not responded to inquiries about reports of atrocities.
In a major announcement on Friday, Aiby said Eritrean soldiers have agreed to leave the region – just five days after first acknowledging they were even there.
“Eritrea has agreed to withdraw its troops from the Ethiopian border,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a statement on Twitter the day after arriving in Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, to meet with President Isaias Afwerki.
The Ethiopian National Defense Force will take over surveillance of the border area with immediate effect, Abiy said.