At least 108 civilians killed this month in airstrikes in Tigray: UN

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At least 108 civilians killed this month in airstrikes in Tigray: UN

GENEVA: At least 108 civilians have been killed since the New Year in a series of airstrikes in Ethiopia’s war-torn northern Tigray region, the United Nations said on Friday.

The UN has also warned of an impending humanitarian catastrophe in the region, with its food distribution operations set to come to a halt.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Twitter: “My call to the parties: stop fighting in all its forms. All people in need of humanitarian aid must receive it as soon as possible. It is time to start dialogue and reconciliation.

The UN human rights office has urged Ethiopian authorities to ensure the protection of civilians, saying disproportionate attacks targeting non-military targets could constitute war crimes.

Northern Ethiopia has been embroiled in conflict since November 2020, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to Tigray after accusing the region’s ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) party ), attacks against federal army camps.

“We are alarmed by the many deeply disturbing reports we continue to receive of civilian casualties and destruction of civilian objects resulting from airstrikes in Ethiopia’s Tigray region,” rights office spokeswoman Liz Throssell said. to journalists in Geneva.

“At least 108 civilians have reportedly been killed and 75 others injured since the beginning of the year, following airstrikes allegedly carried out by the Ethiopian Air Force.”

She detailed a series of airstrikes, including the January 7 attack on the Dedebit displaced persons camp, which left at least 56 people dead and 30 others injured, three of whom later died in hospital.

On Monday, 17 civilians were reportedly killed and 21 injured after an airstrike hit a flour mill, and on Tuesday the state-run Technical and Vocational Education and Training Institute was hit, apparently killing three men, said Throssell.

Numerous other airstrikes were reported in the past week, she added.

“We call on the Ethiopian authorities and their allies to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian objects, in accordance with their obligations under international law,” Throssell said.

“Failure to respect the principles of distinction and proportionality could constitute war crimes.”

Meanwhile, the UN’s World Food Program said its distributions were at an all-time low, with the escalation of the conflict meaning no WFP convoy has reached the Tigrayan capital Mekele since mid-December.

“Life-saving food assistance operations in northern Ethiopia are about to come to a halt as intense fighting in the neighborhood has blocked the passage of fuel and food,” the WFP spokesperson said. , Tomson Phiri, to reporters.

“After 14 months of conflict in northern Ethiopia, more people than ever need emergency food assistance.

“Without food, without fuel, without access, we are on the brink of a major humanitarian catastrophe.”

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