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Get to the bottom of Tigray massacre claims

By Editorial | March 15th 2021
The conflict has left Tigray's population in dire need of humanitarian aid. [BBC]

The conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia, pitting federal government soldiers against the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) militia appears to have escalated.

The conflict began on November 4, 2020 when Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered the army to attack TPLF as a response to attacks by the TPLF forces on a military camp in Tigray.

Since Abiy came to power in 2018, he has had strained relationship with TPLF which, incidentally, ruled Ethiopia from 1991 as the larger party in a coalition of four parties.

Abiy’s leadership style has rubbed his colleagues in the TPLF the wrong way as they believe he is intent on destroying the federal system of government, especially after making peace with Eritrea and getting awarded the Nobel Peace prize for it. In the continued hostilities, both the US government and Amnesty International claim that atrocities, which include killings, rape and murder have been committed against a defenceless population.

There are reports of food shortages in the region where at least 4.5 million people need food aid. So far, an estimated 61,000 refugees from Tigray have arrived in Sudan in search of shelter and peace.

Ethiopia has responded to these claims by terming them spurious. Nonetheless, the conflict is unacceptable. A time has come for the African Union to step in and carry out investigations into allegations of war atrocities.

The combatants in the Tigray conflict might feel emboldened because Ethiopia is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, hence the fear of indictment at the ICC might not be strong. That, however, does not excuse any atrocities. If war crimes have been committed the perpetrators must be brought to book. 

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