At least 108 civilians in Tigray have been killed by airstrikes this month, the UN says

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs urged Ethiopian officials to ensure the safety of civilians, citing countless acts of violence against civilians as war crimes.

Northern Ethiopia has been embroiled in controversy since November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to Tigray after criticizing the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) for attacking a military camp.

“We are appalled by a number of reports, the most shocking of which we continue to receive reports of civilian casualties and the devastation caused by the Tigray airstrikes in Ethiopia,” spokeswoman for the liberation agency Liz Throssell told reporters in Geneva.

“At least 108 people have been killed and 75 others injured since the beginning of the year due to alleged airstrikes by the Ethiopian army.”

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He also described a number of plane crashes, including the January 7 attack on the Dedebit camp for refugees, which killed at least 56 people and injured 30 others, three of whom died at the hospital.

On Monday, 17 civilians were killed and 21 injured after a plane crash hit a mill, and on Tuesday, the state-run Technical Vocational Education and Training was killed, killing three men, Throssell said.

Many other airstrikes were reported last week, he added.

“We call on the Ethiopian authorities and their allies to ensure the safety of civilians and civilian property, in accordance with international human rights law,” Throssell said.

“Failure to respect the principles of non-alignment may equate to war crimes.”

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Meanwhile, the United Nations World Food Program said its share was too small, and the escalation of the conflict meant that no WFP team had reached the Tigrayan Mekele headquarters since mid-December.

WFP spokesman Tomson Phiri told reporters:

“After 14 months of war in northern Ethiopia, many people are in dire need of food aid.

“Without food, fuel, no chance, we are on the brink of a major humanitarian crisis.”

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