TIGRAY REGION: Need for urgent measures to ensure the safety and security of civilians

A mother in Mekele receives help from volunteers at a distribution centre on June 22

"The arrests of Tigray ethnic origin in Addis Ababa, suspected of connection with the ongoing situation in the region, can aggravate the public's concerns on risk of ethnic profiling." EHRC

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) expresses deep concern for the situation of civilians in Tigray Region following the announcement of a ceasefire by the government on June 28, 2021 and interruption of communication services; and urges for measures to be taken urgently to ensure their safety and security. In addition to restoring basic social services, transparency and clarity on the current security and humanitarian situation in the region is a crucial immediate step in this regard as it would allow sufficient understanding of the existing gaps and enable coordinated action of relevant authorities.

While the Commission welcomes reassurances to guarantee security for, provision of and access to humanitarian assistance and while it is important to maintain efforts for a lasting resolution of the conflict, the safety and security of civilians must remain a priority. EHRC is receiving reports that the interruption of electricity, telecommunications and water supply services in several areas of the region is putting a heavy strain on the conditions of life in the region, further compounded by the limited access to health services and disruption of bank services.

National and international aid organisations operating in Tigray are also reporting that the interruption of these services has severely hampered the distribution of humanitarian assistance and made it difficult to assess the current situation of residents, internally displaced persons and refugees in various parts of the region.

In Addis Ababa, the Commission is monitoring reports of arrests of media personnel and residents of Tigray ethnic origin suspected of connection with the ongoing situation in the region. Such measures aggravate the public’s concerns on risk of ethnic profiling.

Anxious parents and families of students at various universities/colleges in the region are also still awaiting response from relevant authorities on the current situation of the students.

Reiterating that ensuring the safety and security of civilians is the primary duty of the government, EHRC Chief Commissioner Daniel Bekele said “The limited information available on the current situation of civilians in Tigray region and the discourses and reports from various directions is causing alarm and uncertainty.

Commitment for the ceasefire by all parties to the conflict and restoring basic services including communication facilities is one of the critical steps needed to improve the situation and will contribute to the ongoing efforts to guarantee uninterrupted provision of humanitarian assistance and sustainable solutions to the conflict. It is also imperative to ensure due process for all persons currently in detention.” The Chief Commissioner has also appealed to all government and non-government bodies to refrain from disseminating information and discourses that create hatred and suspicion between people.

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