The UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, said on Friday that she was alarmed by the continued escalation of ethnic violence in Ethiopia and allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in the Tigray region.
In a statement, Nderitu said she has received reports of serious human rights violations and abuses, committed by the parties to the conflict in the Tigray region and their allies.
These include extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, looting of property, mass executions and impeded humanitarian access. Nderitu reiterated the call by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for urgent steps to alleviate the humanitarian situation and extend the necessary protection to people at risk.
She further urged the federal government of Ethiopia to restore the rule of law and public order in the region and called for an independent and impartial investigation into the allegations of serious violations and abuses of human rights.
Nderitu said she has also received disturbing reports of attacks against civilians based on their religion and ethnicity as well as serious allegations of human rights violations and abuses, including arbitrary arrests, killings, rape, displacement of populations and destruction of property, in various parts of the country.
These are in addition to reported acts of hate speech and stigmatization including, ethnic profiling against some ethnic communities, notably, the Tigray, Amhara, Somali, and Oromo.
“The deep-seated divisions have reportedly led to the imposition of travel restrictions on citizens based on their ethnicity, while ethnically motivated hate speech continues to spread on social media with calls for the exclusion of those perceived not to be original inhabitants of certain ethnic regions,” said Nderitu.
A failure to address ethnic violence, stigmatization, hate speech, religious tensions, compounded with other risk factors, including a culture of impunity and lack of accountability for serious violations committed, perpetuates an environment that exposes the civilian population to a high risk of atrocity crimes, she said.
Nderitu called on the Ethiopian authorities to establish national mechanisms to address the root causes of ethnic violence, build national cohesion and promote reconciliation.
If urgent measures are not immediately taken to address the ongoing challenges facing the country, the risk of atrocity crimes in Ethiopia remains high and likely to get worse, she warned.