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Airstrikes in Ethiopia’s Tigray Kill Over 100 Civilians This Year

Survivors of an airstrike by Ethiopian government forces receive treatment at the Shire Shul General hospital in the town of Dedebit, in northern region of Tigray, Ethiopia Jan. 8, 2022.

The U.N. human rights office says at least 108 civilians have been killed and many more injured in several air strikes allegedly carried out by the Ethiopian air force in the country’s northern Tigray region since the start of the new year.

In the past two weeks, air strikes have hit Tigray’s state-owned Technical Vocational Education and Training Institute, a camp for displaced people, a flour mill, a private minibus, and numerous other civilian targets.

U.N. human rights office spokeswoman Liz Throssell says the number of dead and injured is based on information gathered from different sources by colleagues monitoring the situation in Ethiopia.

“The deadliest airstrike so far, which hit the Dedebit Internally Displaced Persons camp on the 7th of January, left at least 56 people dead and 30 others wounded. We have since established that three of those who were critically injured later died in hospital while receiving medical treatment, pushing the death toll from that single strike to at least 59,” she said.

Throssell says monitors continue to receive deeply disturbing reports of civilian casualties and destruction of civilian sites resulting from airstrikes in Tigray.

“We call on the Ethiopian authorities and their allies to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian objects, in line with their obligations under international law. Any attack, including airstrikes should fully respect the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack…Failure to respect the principles of distinction and proportionality could amount to war crimes,” she expressed.

The Ethiopian government has not commented on allegations of responsibility for airstrikes in Tigray.

The United Nations reports tens of thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million displaced since the conflict between pro-Ethiopian government forces and Tigrayan forces erupted in November 2020. It says 5.2 million people are in need of life-saving assistance, with 400,000 living in famine-like conditions.