Serious breaches of international law committed in Tigray War, watchdog says


(LONDON) — There were “serious breaches” of international law and crimes against humanity were committed during the two-year Tigray War, according to a report released by U.S think tank New Lines Institute.

The report said it found “reasonable basis” that all parties in the conflict committed war crimes and “serious” breaches of international law. Ethiopia’s Defence Force and allied forces also appeared to have committed “crimes against humanity” and “acts of genocide” against Tigrayans as an ethnic group, the report said.

“These acts of genocide include killings, the infliction of serious bodily and mental harm, intentional measures to prevent births, and the deliberate infliction of conditions of life calculated to bring about the destruction of Tigrayans,” said Dr. Azeem Ibrahim, senior director of the New Lines Institute.

The report published Monday is intended to relate “multiple and widespread” reports of atrocities committed during the conflict to the U.N.’s Genocide Convention.

“These findings, drawn from a critical mass of evidence, underscore our collective legal responsibility as signatory states to the Geneva Conventions and the Genocide Convention to prevent further atrocities in the region,” said former U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues David Scheffer, who wrote the report’s afterward.

Among the evidence laid out in the report is a speech by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s social affairs advisor, Daniel Kibret, which was found to openly advocate genocide against Tigrayans.

“We can only erase it,” Kibret said in reference to Tigray, in a speech widely criticized as dangerous, including by the U.S. government.

The report also cites testimony from a senior envoy to the European Union, Pekka Haavisto, who revealed to the media that he was told Ethiopia was planning to “wipe out the Tigrayans for 100 years” in a closed-door meeting attended by Ahmed, the prime minister.

“Victims will carry with them scarring and abuse from a conflict that, despite an apparent cessation of hostilities in 2022, did not result in a stable peace,” Ibrahim said.

The report also said it found “reasonable basis” that starvation was used as a weapon of warfare by Ethiopia’s government, a claim Addis Ababa has denied.

The two-year Tigray War, which ended in November 2022, has been described as one of the deadliest conflicts of the 21st century; the conflict erupting just a year after Ahmed won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea.

Fighting broke out in November 2020 after Ahmed ordered a military offensive in the northern Tigray region after months of tensions, accusing the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of attacking a federal army base just outside Tigray.

The conflict — fought between forces allied to the Ethiopian Federal Government against TPLF and allied militias — soon spilt to neighboring regions. Researchers from Ghent University told ABC News the conflict was estimated to have killed up to 378,000 people.

“Tigray was a terrible, terrible time, and we haven’t talked about it recently, and yet there is speculation about famine there again,” said U.N. Relief Chief Martin Griffiths at a press conference on Tuesday. At least 21.4 million people are estimated to need humanitarian assistance this year.

ABC News has reached out to Ethiopia’s Federal Government for comment.

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