Civilian deaths in Ethiopia may be war crimes: UN

Ethiopians, who fled their homes due to ongoing fighting, are pictured at a refugee camp in the Hamdait border area of Sudan's eastern Kassala state on November 12, 2020. (Photo by - / AFP)

GENEVA,SWITZERLAND – The UN rights chief called on Friday for a full inquiry into possible war crimes in Ethiopia after reports emerged of a massacre of civilians in the Tigray region.

“If confirmed as having been deliberately carried out by a party to the current fighting, these killings of civilians would of course amount to war crimes,” Michelle Bachelet said in a statement, calling for “full accountability”.

Attacking military bases

Ethiopia’s central government launched a military operation in the northern Tigray region last week, accusing the local TPLF ruling party of attacking military bases.

Rights group Amnesty said on Thursday that scores of civilians had been killed by forces backing the TPLF — claims denied as “baseless” by the party.

Bachelet expressed alarm at reports that water and electricity supplies had been cut and called for both sides to begin peace talks, saying “there will be no winner” if fighting continues.

Whole sub-region

“A protracted internal conflict will inflict devastating damage on both Tigray and Ethiopia as a whole undoing years of vital development progress,” she said.

“It could, in addition, all too easily spill across borders, potentially destabilising the whole sub-region.”

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