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Ethiopia Massacre: UN Warns Of War Crimes

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Disturbing reports of an alleged massacre have surfaced in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, amid fighting between national and regional forces that may become impossible to control, the UN human rights chief warned on Friday.

Reacting to emerging details of mass killings involving scores of victims in the town of Mai-Kadra, Michelle Bachelet said “if the Tigray national (and) regional forces and Ethiopian Government forces continue down the path they are on, there is a risk this situation will spiral totally out of control”.

This risked “heavy casualties and destruction, as well as mass displacement within Ethiopia itself and across borders,” her spokesperson, Rupert Colville, told journalists at a press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.

Equally worrying are “ethnically and religiously motivated hate speech, incitement to violence”, arbitrary arrests, killings, mass displacement and destruction in various parts of the country, said senior UN prevention of genocide special adviser, Pramila Patten, and the UN’s Responsibility to Protect senior adviser, Karen Smith.

Such ethnically-motivated attacks and reportedly ethnic profiling of citizens heightened the risk of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, the UN senior officials added.

Although the UN rights chief noted that the details of the alleged atrocity reported by Amnesty International in southwest Tigray “have not yet been fully verified”, she urged a full inquiry.

“If confirmed as having been deliberately carried out by a party to the current fighting, these killings of civilians would of course amount to war crimes,” she said.

The High Commissioner repeated her call to “stop the fighting and prevent any further atrocities from taking place”, before highlighting the devastating military power being brought to bear in the conflict.

“Despite the severing of communications with Tigray making it difficult to verify the extent of the damage so far, we’ve received reports from a variety of sources suggesting increased airstrikes by Government forces as well as fierce ground fighting between the opposing forces,” she said.

Cuts to essential services for vulnerable populations as well as a communications blackout and access problems “by road and by air” for relief agencies were also deeply worrying, Ms. Bachelet added.

Regional and political tensions have risen since 2018, when newly-elected Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed merged several ethnically based regional parties into a single national force, amid an ambitious reform programme.

Violence erupted at the start of the month in Tigray involving federal and local forces, following the reported takeover of an army base in the Tigrayan capital, Mekelle, which prompted the Ethiopian Prime Minister to order a military offensive.

Prior to the Tigray escalation, dozens of people in western Oromia region were killed and injured in attacks.

East Africa News

Militants Ambush, Kill 25 Mozambican Soldiers

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Villages in Mozambique's northern region grapple with faceless jihadists

No fewer than 25 members of the Mozambique Defence Armed Forces (FADM), including a colonel and a major, died in an ambush by Islamist militants in Matambalale village in the district of Muidumbe, local media reports have said.

According to reports, 15 others were injured in the ambush.

A group of military personnel were on manoeuvres in that region when the incident happened on Sunday, according to local media.

The victims were part of a group sent to that district to reinforce security after last week’s attacks where homes were set ablaze and residents killed.

The army has not been available to confirm or deny the reports.

The three-year insurgency has killed more than 2,000 people and displaced about 500,000 others in Cabo Delgado, according to official statistics.

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East Africa News

Lightning Kills Four In Mozambique

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No fewer than four people have been killed by lightning strikes in Mozambique’s western province of Tete, the Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) announced on Wednesday.

News Central reports that Tete shares a border with neighbouring Malawi.

According to the institute, the victims include an elderly woman and a three-year-old child. One other victim was seriously injured and a residence set ablaze.

The incident follows a rainstorm accompanied by strong winds that left a trail of destruction in southern Mozambique.

Tete’s National Disaster Management Institute delegate, Alex Angelo, said the torrential rain also caused damage in Maputo province on Tuesday and early Wednesday morning.

He added that thunderstorms, wind and heavy rain brought down trees and power poles and damaged public infrastructure in the districts of Matola, Boane and Marracuene.

The storm also destroyed homes, uprooted trees and electricity poles and blew away the roofs of some schools and a local prosecutor’s office.

The destruction occurred mainly in four districts within the province.

The meteorological authorities predict the bad weather may continue for four more days.

The situation is likely to cause flooding in the cities of Beira and Dondo, which were devastated by cyclone Idai last year, and cause erosion in Chimoio.

Meteorologist Acacio Tembe says the torrential rains are beginning a week earlier than expected and they will continue for long.

He added that the rains may cause the flooding of the Buzi and Pungue rivers.

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East Africa News

Tigray: Ethiopia, U.N Reach Agreement On Provision Of Aids

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The Ethiopian government and the United Nations (U.N) have reached an agreement on the provision of access to humanitarian aids.

This was revealed by U.N officials on Wednesday, as they claim that the Ethiopian government has agreed to the provision of aids in Mekelle, the Tigrayan capital.

Ethiopia and Tigray, a powerful region in the north of the country, have been at loggerheads since the 4th of November.

The Ethiopian government accused the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of destroying public properties and wreaking a havoc on the state.

This led to battles between the giant of the Horn of Africa and the rebellious Tigrayan forces.

The UN, through its refugee agency, warned about the lean supply of food to the more than 100,000 refugees in Ethiopia. At least 46,000 Ethiopians have also taken refuge in neighbouring Sudan, where they are short on food supply, according to the U.N.

Read also: UN Seeks $147m Support For Ethiopians In Sudan

Also affected in the food crunch are refugees in Eritrea, Ethiopia’s closest neighbours.

African envoys had called for a truce amid the Ethiopian government’s rejection of mediation from the international community.

Mister Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia said on Monday that Mekelle has been captured, as he revealed that no civilian was hit in the process.

His claims were however rejected by the leader of the TPLF, Debretsion Gebremichael who claimed that the Ethiopian government hit civilians in its onslaught on Mekelle.

The TPLF has refused to back down from its conflict with Ethiopia, denying that the battle is not over, contrary to the claims of Mister Ahmed.

Ethiopia is gearing up for its election in 2021, with political matters forming a part of the reasons for the ongoing conflict.

Mister Ahmed postponed the Ethiopian elections in August, citing COVID-19 as the reason for the decision. The TPLF has accused the Prime Minister of illegally leading government by buying himself more time through postponement of the election.

The TPLF ruled Ethiopia for 27 years before the emergence of Mister Ahmed in 2018.

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