This article contains references to rape and sexual assault.
The United Nations states that it has received “disturbing” reports of sexual violence and abuse, including individuals forced to rape members of their families in the conflict-affected Tigray region of Ethiopia.
Pramira Patten, a UN special representative on sexual violence during conflict, said he was very concerned about serious allegations from the northern region, such as “the number of rape suspects” in Mek’ele, the capital of Tigrinya. Stated.
“There are also disturbing reports of individuals allegedly forced to rape members of their families under the threat of imminent violence,” Patten said in a statement Thursday.
“Some women are also reportedly forced to have sex in exchange for basic goods by military factors.”
Ms. Patten urged all parties involved in hostilities to commit to a zero-tolerance policy against crimes of sexual violence.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, announced a military operation in Tigray in early November, saying he had responded to a regional ruling attack on a federal camp.
Mr Abby declared victory after federal troops entered the provincial capital in late November, but Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) leaders vowed to continue their escape and fight.
According to the International Crisis Group, thousands have died in conflict, but communication blackouts, restricted media and humanitarian access made it difficult to assess the situation in the field.
In her statement Thursday (local time), Ms. Patten said that medical centers “showed an increasing demand for emergency contraception and sexually transmitted disease (STI) testing, which is often the case for sexual violence in conflict. It’s an indicator. ”
She called for full humanitarian access to Tigray, including camps for displaced persons and “refugee camps where new arrivals allegedly reported cases of sexual violence.”
Ms. Patten expressed concern about more than 5,000 Eritrean refugees around Shire in dire straits. She said many of them were “more than 59,000 Ethiopians who reportedly slept in fields without water and food and fled to neighboring Sudan.”
The Tigray caretaker administration did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Earlier this month, a video of a state television broadcast of a conference in which an unidentified man in military uniform expressed concern about rape in Mek’ele.
“Why are women being raped in Mek’ele?” Said the man.
“If it happened during the war, it wouldn’t have been shocking because it could have been predicted because it was out of control, but it’s still happening now that the federal and local police are back in town.”
If you or anyone you know is affected by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT at 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In case of emergency, call 000.