This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Ethiopia: Civilians once again mired in intractable and deadly war, Human Rights Council hears
Ethiopia’s people are once again “mired… in the intractable and deadly consequences of a war” between Government troops and forces loyal to Tigrayan fighters, top rights investigators said on Thursday.
In their first report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia said that they had reasonable grounds to believe that war crimes have been committed since the conflict erupted in November 2020.
Crimes against humanity in Tigray were also “ongoing”, the report concluded, amid renewed fighting last month that broke a five-month ceasefire, and “violations, such as extrajudicial killings, rape, sexual violence, and starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare”.
Commission chairperson Kaari Betty Murungi cited information from “credible sources” that there had been an “escalation in drone attacks employing explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas”.
And she told the Council that Eritrean troops were also reportedly involved along the border separating the two countries, highlighting the risk that the conflict could affect regional stability.
Humanitarian access into Tigray continues to be blocked despite the dire humanitarian situation there, Ms. Murungi said, adding that six million people had been denied access to electricity, the internet, telecommunications and banking for more than a year:
“We have reasonable grounds to believe that the Federal Government and its allies have looted and destroyed goods indispensable for the survival of the civilian population in Tigray, killing livestock, destroying food stores, and razing crops while also implementing severe restrictions on humanitarian access .”
Rejecting the report’s findings, the Ethiopia delegation repeated its claim that the federal government had been subjected to “unfair and biased scrutiny” at the Council for more than a year.
Myanmar: If Security Council won’t act, other nations should step in, urges top rights expert
Horrific testimonies from civilians targeted by Myanmar’s military are yet another reason for the international community to take practical measures to halt the bloodshed, a top independent human rights expert said on Thursday.
“It is incredibly important for the world to give a damn…to stop failing the people of Myanmar and act,” said Tom Andrews, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.
Mr. Andrews, who reports to the Human Rights Council at the UN in Geneva, insisted that the military continues to bomb civilians, in an attempt to subdue opposition to their de facto rule.
He described how the junta’s military forces had attacked a school in Sagaing region last Friday, killing at least 13, including 11 children; the coordinated attack from the air and ground ended with soldiers picking up children’s bodyparts and taking them away, the Special Rapporteur said.
“A school in a monastery, and two helicopter gunships, foreign-made, foreign-provided swooping in on this school while soldiers entered the grounds with automatic weapons firing away; children terrified, running, looking for cover. Eleven of them at least killed, literally blown up.”
In the absence of unified condemnation of the junta in the UN Security Council and the establishment of targeted economic sanctions, an arms embargo and a request for an international criminal inquiry, Mr. Andrews called for a “coalition of likeminded countries” to take action instead.
UN raises $75 million needed to salvage stricken tanker off Yemen’s coast
To Yemen, where the stricken oil tanker moored off the coast is one step closer to being made safe, after the UN announced that it has raised the $75 million needed to pay for the salvage operation.
The rusting vessel has been anchored off the coast of Hudaydah for more than 30 years.
But offloading and maintenance stopped in 2015 following the start of the war in Yemen, between a Saudi-led coalition backing the internationally-recognized Government, and Houthi rebels.
Announcing the welcome development, David Gressly, the UN’s top aid official in Yemen, said that the plan to prevent a catastrophic Red Sea oil spill could begin.
It’s been estimated that if the ship – the Safer – did break up, it would cost at least $20 billion to clear up, while also devastating the fragile economy of war-torn Yemen and triggering an even deeper humanitarian emergency.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.