Rape, Sexual Violence Must Stop in Ethiopia's Tigray - UN Official

Published January 24th, 2021 - 10:44 GMT
The crises have inspired some officials and ordinary Ethiopians to turn the event into a celebration of military might, using public statements and performances to project strength and issue warnings to would-be enemies. EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP
The crises have inspired some officials and ordinary Ethiopians to turn the event into a celebration of military might, using public statements and performances to project strength and issue warnings to would-be enemies. EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP

A top United Nations official is demanding an end to sexual violence in the Tigray region of Ethiopia that has resulted from fighting between government forces and local factions.

Pramila Patten, U.N. special representative of the secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict, called on all people in the conflict to end hostilities and stop using sexual violence as a weapon.

Ethiopian forces under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed have been fighting leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front since November for control of the region. The fighting has led to widespread lawlessness and the exodus of more than 50,000 civilian refugees to Sudan.

Patten said her office has received "serious" reports of large-scale sexual violence, particularly around Mekelle, the capital of Ethiopia's Tigray region.

"There are also disturbing reports of individuals allegedly forced to rape members of their own family, under threats of imminent violence," Patten said in a statement.

"Some women have also reportedly been forced by military elements to have sex in exchange for basic commodities, while medical centers have indicated an increase in the demand for emergency contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections which is often an indicator of sexual violence in conflict."


Patten added that women and girls have not been able to find safety in refugee camps, where reports of sexual violence are increasing.

"[With] the hampered physical access in many parts of Tigray, and the dire situation of civilians especially refugees, it remains critical that humanitarian actors and independent human rights monitors be granted immediate, unconditional and sustained access," she said, calling for medical and mental health protections.

"Many of them [are] reportedly sleeping in an open field with no water or food," she said.

"The United Nations estimates that of these refugees, more than 25% are women and girls of reproductive age."

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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