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Ethiopian forces and backers ‘committed genocide in Tigray’

A report by an American-based institution, the New Lines Institute, indicates that Ethiopia’s National Defense Force (ENDF) and its backers – the Eritrean Defence Forces (EDF), and the Amhara Special Forces (ASF) – committed genocide against against Tigrayans.

The three organisations are believed to have committed at least four acts of genocide: killing Tigrayans, causing serious bodily or mental harm; deliberately inflicting conditions on Tigrayans calculated to bring about their destruction; and imposing measures intended to prevent births among Tigrayans.

The ENDF and the EDF are also accused – along with the ASF and the Tigrayan TPLF and TDF forces – of violating international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

The report, which indicates that social media was used as a tool of incitement to genocide by some individuals, reinforces a similar one by the UN’s International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia in 2022, which found evidence that the two warring parties committed atrocities in Tigray.

The two-year war in Tigray officially ended in 2022 following a ceasefire deal between Ethiopia’s government and Tigrayan forces, but, according to the UN, crimes against humanity have continued despite the ceasefire.

Ethiopia’s government framed the offensive in Tigray as a targeted operation against the TPLF leadership. At the start of the conflict, a communications blackout made it hard to get accurate information about what was happening on the ground, but by December 2020 media reports and UN officials began raising alarms about the civilian abuses, especially targeting ethnic Tigrayans. Eritrea intervened militarily in the conflict on behalf of the Ethiopian government. After months of denying their presence, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government admitted in March 2023 that Eritrean troops were fighting in Tigray.

The conflict has left one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises in its wake.

According to the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), an estimated nine million people across Ethiopia’s Tigray, Afar, and Amhara regions now require food aid. Nearly 40% of people in Tigray are suffering from an extreme lack of food. As of the end of last year, at least three million people remained internally displaced in Ethiopia, 69% of them due to conflict.

For more background on international efforts to deliver some accountability over the Tigray conflict, read: How international bodies can help prevent more Ethiopia massacres.

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