Alice Wairimu Nderitu, the UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide has cautioned of the heightened risk of genocide and related crimes following increased violent clashes in four Ethiopian regions.
Nderitu disclosed that she is alarmed at the increased risk of genocide and related atrocity crimes in Afar, Amhara, Oromia and Tigray following reports of continued fighting between government troops and local militias.
“Reports that we see coming out of Ethiopia are deeply disturbing and constitute a call for action,” she affirmed in a press release.
“I want to particularly draw the attention of the global community to the continued presence of risk factors for genocide and related atrocity crimes in the country.”
The special adviser pointed out reports of assailants killing entire families and forcing relatives to watch horrific crimes against their loved ones while whole communities were displaced or expelled from their homes.
“The suffering of innocent civilians should never be accepted as inevitable. Rather it must reinforce our commitment to ensure that impunity does not prevail and that all possible prevention actions are prioritized,” she said.
Wairimu Nderitu has thus called for an immediate end to wide-ranging violations perpetrated by parties to the conflict since November 2020, including mass killings, rape, starvation, destruction of schools and medical facilities, forced displacement and arbitrary detention.
“It is imperative that violence stops and that innocent civilians are not directly targeted. Ongoing hostilities constitute a war against civilians as much as a war between the warring parties,” she said.
An agreement to cease hostilities in the country more than a year ago has largely failed, as violent confrontations continue, with mounting allegations of atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity still being committed in the country.
On 24 September, the historic city of Gondar in Amhara reportedly saw heavy urban combat when local militias known as the Fano entered the city, prompting intense clashes with the Federal Forces.
“Reports that Eritrean troops and Amhara militia members continue to commit grave violations in Tigray, including the systematic rape and sexual violence of women and girls, are disturbing,” Nderitu stated, adding that “there have been numerous credible reports of violations against Amhara civilians since the announcement of a state of emergency in August 2023. These violations must stop immediately.”