At least 108 killed by air strikes in Ethiopia’s Tigray region in January, according to the UN

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

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

«At least 108 civilians have been killed and 75 wounded since the beginning of the year, due to air strikes that would have been carried out by the Ethiopian air force» in this region, the spokeswoman said at a regular press conference of UN agencies.

The deadliest attack so far hit the Dedebit town displaced persons camp on January 7, leaving dozens dead and wounded.

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

Tigray has been the scene of an armed conflict for 14 months between the federal government and the former local authorities of the Tigray 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.

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

«The parties to the conflict must (…) suspend any attack 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.

– No humanitarian aid –

Tigre is subject to a «de facto blockade» of humanitarian aid, according to the UN.

«We are on the verge 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 arrests» that do not stop, within the framework of the state of emergency in force throughout the country.

The UN emphasized the release of several detainees «especially leading opposition figures who had been detained for many months,» but warned that «numerous other people — at least several hundred — remain in indefinite detention in appalling conditions. Throssell stressed.