Ethiopian officials and forces allied to the federal government are committing acts of ethnic cleansing in the war-stricken northern region of Tigray, according to an internal US report obtained by the New York Times.
Fighters and officials from the neighbouring Ethiopian region of Amhara, who entered the conflict in support of Ethiopian federal forces, are “deliberately and efficiently rendering Western Tigray ethnically homogeneous through the organized use of force and intimidation,” the report found.
Areas of Western Tigray controlled by militias from Amhara, a region which has a historic rivalry with Tigray, pillaged and burned ethnic Tigrayan towns. Whole villages are reported to have been “severely damaged or “completeley erased”. Whereas, majority Amharan settlements in the region are said to be thriving, with busy shops, bars and restaurants.
The second report, published on 26th February by Amnesty International, found that Eritrean troops had committed mass extrajudicial killings in the ancient northern town of Aksum.
Amnesty spoke to 41 survivors and witnesses who attested to a series of human rights violations committed by Eritrean forces between 19th and 29th November 2020.
“Over an approximately 24-hour period on 28-29 November, Eritrean soldiers deliberately shot civilians on the street and carried out systematic house-to-house searches, extrajudicially executing men and boys,” the report read.
The massacre was reportedly carried out in “retaliation for an earlier attack by a small number of local militiamen, joined by local residents armed with sticks and stones.”
As residents tried to remove bodies from the streets, Eritrean forces opened fire again, before permitting them to bring the dead to churches for burial.
In a series of tweets, Eritrea’s minister of information rejected the reports findings, declaring them “preposterous” and “fallacious”.
Declaring that Amnesty “made absolutely no attempt to seek any information from Eritrea”, he tweeted that the report was “transparently unprofessional”.
The conflict in Tigray began on 4th November last year when forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front attacked the headquarters of Ethiopia’s federal forces in the north of the country. It followed a constitutional dispute between the TPLF and the Ethiopian Federal Government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Over 2 million people are estimated to have been displaced since the conflict began and, according to the Tigray Emergency Coordination Center, a group setup by the Ethiopian government to handle the humanitarian needs in the region, four-and-a-half million people need emergency food assistance.