The United Nations said that it had received several disturbing reports of abuse and sexual violence in the conflict-hit Tigray region, including cases of individuals forced to rape their family members. The global agency’s special representative on sexual violence, Pramila Patten, stated that she was deeply disturbed by the severe accusations in the conflict-hit region, including numerous alleged rapes in the capital, Mekelle.
On Thursday, Patten claimed that there were also disturbing reports of individuals forced to rape their family members, under threats of violence. She maintained that some women in the area were forced by military elements to have sex in exchange for basic commodities.
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UN’s special representative on sexual violence called on all the parties in the conflict to commit toa zero-tolerance policy towards several sexual abuse cases. In early November last year, the incumbent Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmad – winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize – announced a military offensive against the local militia group, TPLF, arguing that the party’s attack on military bases prompted the operation.
Weeks later, Abiy claimed victory against Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), even though many local leaders remain on the run and vowed to fight back. According to the international crisis group, thousands of the residents of the northern Tigray have died in the conflict amidst a commutation blackout that has made it difficult to analyze the situation on the ground and access to humanitarian aid difficult.
In Thursday’s statement, Patten said that there had been a significant increase in testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and emergency contraption at local medical centers. She further called on the Ethiopian authorities for full access to Tigray and camps for refugees and displaced, where new arrivals have reported numerous cases of sexual violence.
But the caretaker government in the northern province did not respond to Patten’s accusations and demands. Earlier, the state-run media channel showed footage showing an unidentified man in uniform expressed concerns over the reports of rape in Mekelle.
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