Many Ethiopian citizens and foreigners and diplomats on Wednesday were reported to have been fleeing the nation’s capital, Addis Ababa as rebel forces is closing in.
The Ethiopian government had on Tuesday declared a 6-month state of emergency after Tigray and Oromo rebels captured some strategic cities.
The U.N. human rights chief said Wednesday that Ethiopia’s yearlong war has been marked by “extreme brutality” as a joint investigation into alleged atrocities faulted all sides for committing abuses, and “the big numbers of violations” are linked to Ethiopian forces and those from neighbouring Eritrea.
The investigation was hampered by authorities’ intimidation and restrictions and didn’t visit some of the war’s worst-affected locations. It said all combatants have committed abuses which may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The report, a rare collaboration by the U.N. human rights office with the government-created Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, was released a day before the war’s one-year mark and as Africa’s second-most populous country enters a new state of emergency with rival Tigray forces threatening the capital.
The U.N. told The Associated Press the collaboration was necessary for its team to gain access to a troubled region that Ethiopian authorities have largely prevented journalists, rights groups and other observers from entering.
The conflict that erupted in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has killed thousands of people since the government of Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed allowed soldiers from Eritrea to invade Tigray and join Ethiopian forces in fighting the Tigray forces who long dominated the national government before Abiy took office. Ethnic Tigrayans across the country have since reported being targeted with arbitrary detentions, while civilians in Tigray have described gang rapes, famine and mass expulsions.
In western Tigray, claimed by forces from the neighbouring Amhara region, “it was apparent that the Tigrayans had left most of the areas, as it was difficult to find Tigrayans to interview,” the report said.