Two United States Senators want the government to consider placing sanctions on any Ethiopian officials found to be complicit in human rights violations as the country wages a civil war in its northern Tigray region.
The resolution was introduced Wednesday by Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, according to Reuters. The conflict between Ethiopian forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front has been ongoing since November 4th. (RELATED: New Refugee Crisis Brewing As Ethiopia Descends Into Civil War)
Ethiopia: UN Rights Chief has information about “gross human rights violations and abuses,” including attacks on civilians, looting, abductions and sexual violence.”Reports of Tigrayan youth forced to fight against their own communities https://t.co/G1xwcBUrm7
— Martin Plaut (@martinplaut) December 9, 2020
Thousands have been killed in the war and nearly a million are thought to have been displaced, Reuters reports, citing UN statistics. There has been international concern that abuses of civilians have occurred on both sides. Ethiopian authorities say they will internally investigate, but will not allow an independent investigation unless they are unable to conduct one themselves, Reuters reports.
Ethiopian leadership has declared victory in the conflict after capturing the TPLF capital of Mekelle, but the TPLF says they are still resisting, according to Reuters. Civilians who fled the fighting have told Reuters that they witnessed other civilians being hacked to death, shot in the streets, and bombed by government planes.
Amnesty International reports that hundreds of civilians may have been killed in a massacre in the village of Mai Kadra. Aid groups have claimed difficulty in helping civilians in the Tigray region, but a spokeswoman for President Abiy Ahmed said that “The federal government is well equipped and able to restore order and is undertaking such activities as cities and towns slowly return to regular activities.”
Ethiopia is Africa’s second-most populous country and is an important ally of the United States in a region marred by instability and violence. It borders Uganda, Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia, all of which have experienced humanitarian crises in recent history. (RELATED: U.N. Commissioner Blames ‘America First’ For Human Rights ‘Setbacks’)
Reports of what is really happening in Tigray have been difficult to verify due to a cutting off of communications infrastructure and a limiting of access by Ethiopian forces, Reuters reports. In a statement, Cardin said “fighting in Tigray has already cost thousands of lives and created a humanitarian crisis of disastrous proportions, threatening the long-term stability not only of Ethiopia, but the entire region.”