Ethiopia: UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk warns of devastating impact of continued hostilities on civilians

GENEVA (18 October 2022) – The latest alarming airstrikes on the Tigray region risk seriously exacerbating the already devastating impact of hostilities on civilians, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk warned today.

“Since 31 August we have received numerous reports of civilian casualties and destruction of civilian objects due to airstrikes and artillery strikes in Tigray – disruptions to communication make it particularly difficult to verify reports, but it is clear that the toll on civilians is utterly staggering,” Türk said.

Among those killed in recent incidents was a staff member of the NGO International Rescue Committee, who was part of a team delivering humanitarian assistance to women and children.

“In the midst of a grim humanitarian situation, this is completely unacceptable,” High Commissioner Türk said.

“I am also deeply troubled by the significant risk of escalation in light of continued mass mobilisation of soldiers and fighters by various parties to the conflict.”

The High Commissioner appealed to all parties to the conflict to immediately cease all hostilities and work towards a peaceful and lasting solution.

Parties to the conflict must respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law by, among other actions, taking all feasible measures to protect civilians and civilian objects, and allowing humanitarian assistance to reach all those in need.

“Under international law, indiscriminate attacks or attacks deliberately targeting civilians or civilian objects amount to war crimes,” Türk added.

The High Commissioner stressed the need to support all efforts towards ensuring accountability for gross violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law committed during the conflict.