Addis Ababa, 5 December 2021 (TDI): UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) experts have called for urgent action to end violence against women caught in the Tigray conflict in northern Ethiopia. There is widespread sexual and gender-based violence in northern Ethiopia. Consequently, this incidence caused egregious violations of human rights.

The experts who issued the statement received their mandates from the UN Human Rights Council, which is based in Geneva. These experts monitor specific country situations or thematic issues. For instance, violence or discrimination against women and girls, and the rights of internally displaced persons. The experts are independent of the United Nations. Moreover, they serve in their individual capacity.

War in Tigray

The war in Tigray began just over a year ago. The UN Human Rights High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet last month mentioned the Tigray conflict has been marked by “extreme brutality”

There is a deliberate strategy to terrorize and humiliate the victims. Moreover, they degrade the ethnic minority group. Consequently, these brutal acts have devastating physical along psychological impacts on the victims.

The human rights experts mentioned that the exact prevalence of gender-based violence is unknown however the estimates are shocking. According to estimates from November 2020, some 2,204 survivors reported sexual violence across the Tigray region. Furthermore, around 90% reported were underage girls. The experts mentioned these figures are an underestimation of the true extent of gender-based violence being committed. The Cases are severely under-reported due to fear, stigma. There is also the inability to access health or support centers.

UNHRC stressed that humanitarian assistance is vital to ensure adequate care. The women and girls are at risk of life-threatening infections. There is a need for proper access to facilities.

Moreover, the experts reported that the violence occurred in both rural and urban areas. The women and girls are raped because of their perceived or actual political affiliation.

The Internally displaced women and girls in Ethiopia living in the Tigray region have been particularly exposed to sexual violence. Consequently, They are psychologically affected by the conflict.

Protect human rights

The UN experts urged parties to the conflict of their duty to respect and protect human rights. Moreover, they need to prevent violations in any territory under their control. Furthermore, they urged the sides to implement recommendations contained in a joint report by the Ethiopian Human Rights Office and its UN counterpart.

Those recommendations include taking immediate measures to protect women and girls. For instance, from rape and other forms of gender-based violence. Moreover to provide redress to victims. Furthermore, it also calls for facilitating immediate access to health care and ensuring impartial investigation of all incidences of sexual violence.

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