The UN condemns the atrocities of the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia

(CNN) — The United Nations has condemned the atrocities uncovered in a joint investigation into the conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region on Wednesday, a day after the country’s government announced a state of emergency across the country and called on citizens to take weapons against advancing Tigray forces towards the capital.

The investigation, which is the only human rights inquiry allowed in the blockaded region of Tigray since fighting broke out between the former local ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian government on last year — does not blame hostilities and human rights violations on any single group.

CNN uncovers evidence of torture in Tigray 8:46

Instead, it said all parties to the conflict, including government-allied forces from Eritrea and Ethiopia’s Amhara region, had “committed violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law, some of which may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity,” to varying degrees.

Among the violations that may constitute war crimes, the report details extrajudicial killings, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, violations against refugees, and forced displacement of civilians.

The joint investigation by the UN Human Rights Office and the state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, or EHRC, is a rare partnership that has drawn attention among the people of Tigray, human rights groups and other observers, who have raised concerns about its independence from government influence. But the UN has reaffirmed its impartiality.

“We were not pressured by the government,” UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said during a press conference on the report in Geneva on Wednesday, adding that restricted access to some areas of Tigray made it difficult for the team to quantify the abuses.

Responding to the findings, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the report “clearly established that the allegation of genocide was false and completely devoid of any factual basis.”

Massacre in Ethiopia: dozens of civilians killed 3:56

The report covers the number of civilian casualties from early November 2020, when the armed conflict began, to June 2021, when the Ethiopian government declared a unilateral ceasefire, a ceasefire that has not held. It is based on 269 confidential interviews with victims and witnesses of alleged violations and abuse.

Bachelet called the report “devastating.”

“The Tigray conflict has been marked by extreme brutality. The severity and seriousness of the violations and abuses we have documented underscores the need to hold perpetrators on all sides accountable,” it added.

CNN’s Stephanie Halasz and Schams Elwazer contributed to this report.

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