At least 108 killed in airstrikes in the Ethiopian region of Tigré in January, according to the UN

At least 108 civilians have died since the beginning of January in air strikes that have been perpetrated by the Ethiopian air force in the Tigré region, the UN said on Friday, referring to possible war crimes.

“We are alarmed by the many deeply disturbing reports that we continue to receive regarding civilian casualties and the destruction of civilian property as a result of air strikes in the Tigré region of Ethiopia,” said a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Elizabeth Throssell.

“At least 108 civilians have died and 75 have been wounded since the beginning of the year, by air strikes carried out by the Ethiopian air forces” in this region, the spokeswoman said at a regular press conference of the UN agencies.

The deadliest attack so far hit the Dedebit city IDP camp on 7 January, leaving dozens dead and wounded.

“We have since established that three of the seriously injured people died at the hospital … bringing the toll from that single attack to at least 59 dead,” Throssell said.

Tigré has been the scene for 14 months of an armed conflict between the federal government and the former local authorities of the Tigré People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a party that de facto ruled Ethiopia for 30 years until the current Prime Minister Abiy came to power. Ahmed, in 2018.

A Nobel Peace Prize winner the year after taking office, Ahmed sent the federal army to Tigré in November 2020 to remove the regional government that had questioned his authority for several months and accused of having attacked military bases.

“The parties to the conflict must (…) suspend all attacks if it appears that the target is not a military objective or if the attack is disproportionate. Failure to respect the principles of distinction and proportionality may constitute a war crime,” he warned. Throssell.

– Without humanitarian aid –

Tigré is subject to a “de facto blockade” of humanitarian aid, according to the UN.

“We are on the brink of a great humanitarian catastrophe,” warned a spokesman for the World Food Program, Tomson Phiri, who participated in the press conference.

In addition, the High Commissioner expressed his concern about “arbitrary detentions” that do not stop, in the framework of the state of emergency in force throughout the country.