Geneva [Switzerland], November 4 (ANI): All parties involved in the escalating conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray must stop fighting immediately, or else risk pushing the region's catastrophic humanitarian situation "over the edge", the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said on Wednesday.
The UN rights chief's appeal followed the declaration of a broad state of emergency in Ethiopia, amid reports that Tigrayan forces had made further advances into the neighbouring Amhara region, and other news reports of shelling of the Tigrayan capital Mekelle, by Ethiopian Government forces.
"The risks are grave that, far from stabilising the situation, these extremely broad measures - which include sweeping powers of arrest and detention - will deepen divisions, endanger civil society and human rights defenders, provoke greater conflict and only add to the human suffering already at unacceptable levels," Bachelet said.
In an appeal for calm that coincided with the release of a hard-hitting joint UN-Ethiopia report which suggested that all sides were responsible for terrible abuses during the first eight months of fighting, the UN rights chief urged them to prioritise the protection of civilians.
With the eyes of the international community fixed firmly on the alarming situation, Bachelet called for justice and truth for victims' families to be pursued, in a transparent manner.
"Civilians in Tigray have been subjected to brutal violence and suffering," she told journalists in Geneva, at the launch of a report by her Office and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission into the Tigray conflict.
"The Joint Investigation Team uncovered numerous violations and abuses, including unlawful killings and extra-judicial executions, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, violations against refugees, and forced displacement of civilians," she added.
Based on nearly 270 confidential interviews with victims and witnesses and more than 60 meetings with federal and regional officials, the report covers the period from 3 November 2020, when the conflict began between the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF), the Eritrean Defence Force (EDF), the Amhara Special Forces (ASF) and other militias on one side, and the Tigrayan Special Forces (TSF), Tigrayan militia and other allied groups on the other.
The reporting period runs through until 28 June 2021, when the Ethiopian Government declared a unilateral ceasefire. (ANI)