The conflict that started in Tigray, Ethiopia in early November 2020 between the government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), with involvement from Eritrea and numerous ethno-regional militia groups, has led to a large-scale humanitarian and human rights crisis in the region. In addition to socioeconomic upheaval, civilians have suffered displacement, famine, violence, and other human rights violations since the war began, including widespread conflict-related sexual violence. The violence has not been limited to Tigray; violence and abuses have been reported in other regions of Ethiopia perpetrated by government forces, ethnic militias, and rebel groups. The UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide has repeatedly raised alarm about the continued presence of risk factors for genocide and related atrocity crimes in the country.
PHR has worked with our medical, public health, and human rights partners in Ethiopia to document conflict-related sexual violence in Ethiopia. Our 2023 report Broken Promises: Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Before and After the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement in Tigray, Ethiopia, in partnership with the Organization for Justice and Accountability in the Horn of Africa (OJAH), revealed widespread and systematic conflict-related sexual violence perpetrated against civilians from the beginning of the conflict in November 2020 through June 2023. The report was the first ever to document conflict-related sexual violence through medical records. The hundreds of records we reviewed show that gross violations continue to be perpetrated even after the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement by the government of Ethiopia and the TPLF.
PHR continues to document war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity in parts of Ethiopia to call for physical and mental health services for survivors and accountability in the context of the conflict. PHR denounced the failure of the UN Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE) and continues to advocate for survivor-centered justice processes to secure accountability for violations of human rights and humanitarian law.