(Bloomberg) — The United Nations asked Ethiopia to grant humanitarian agencies access to the embattled Tigray region and allow independent investigations into alleged war crimes.
The continuing lack of access, coupled with an ongoing communications blackout in many areas, increases concerns about the circumstances for civilians, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement Tuesday. Agencies have to investigate allegations of artillery strikes on populated regions, the deliberate targeting of civilians, looting and extrajudicial killings, she said.
“These reports point to failure by the parties to the conflict to protect civilians,” she said. “This is all the more concerning given that fighting is said to be continuing, particularly in some areas of north, central and southern Tigray.”
While the government and the UN signed an access agreement on Nov. 29, only two UN humanitarian assessment missions were allowed to enter the region by Dec. 21, according to the statement. Ethiopia’s Ministry of Peace helped deliver 44 trucks loaded with about 2,000 tons of food to Shire town on Dec. 8, while an International Committee of the Red Cross convoy reached Mekelle on Dec. 12, delivering medicine and supplies to health-care facilities.
Since the start of November Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has taken on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which dominated the government for nearly three decades, after saying it had attacked the federal army’s Northern Command. More than 50,000 Ethiopians have crossed to Sudan to seek refuge since the conflict broke out in the northern region.
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