U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday called for thorough investigations into human rights situations in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region.
“If civilians were deliberately killed by a party or parties to the conflict, these killings would amount to war crimes and there needs to be independent, impartial, thorough and transparent investigations to establish accountability and ensure justice,” said Bachelet in a statement.
Ethiopian authorities recently said the government will not allow a third party to investigate human rights situation in any part of the country.
Bachelet particularly referred to the alleged killing of several hundred people in the northwestern town of Mai Kadra on November 9, 2020.
The UN Human Rights Office spokeswoman, Liz Throssell, meanwhile, said her office had been in talks with the Ethiopian government aimed at setting up a team to verify violations as soon as possible.
Ethiopia’s army has been fighting the rebellious forces in Tigray for more than six weeks now.
The conflict erupted on November 4, 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the launch of military operations against the regional government, then led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Thousands of people are believed to have been killed. The conflict is also estimated to have displaced 950,000 people internally, some 50,000 of whom into Sudan, according to the UN.
Until now, the UN has been monitoring the situation remotely and has obtained some of its information from refugees among the tens of thousands who have fled to Sudan, the commissioner added.