The United Nations is calling for a “zero tolerance” policy for crimes of sexual violence in Ethiopia’s troubled Tigray region.
In a statement from Pramila Patten monitored by the VOICE OF AMERICA, the U.N. secretary-general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, there has been a high number of reported rapes in the capital, Mekelle, as well as reports that some women are being forced by “military elements” to have sex in exchange for basic commodities.
“It remains critical that humanitarian actors and independent human rights monitors be granted immediate, unconditional and sustained access to the entirety of the Tigray region, including IDP [internally displaced people] and refugee camps where new arrivals have allegedly reported cases of sexual violence,” Patten said in a statement.
Recent news reports say the Ethiopian government has not responded to the allegations of rapes in Mekelle.
According to the U.N., 59,000 Ethiopians have fled to Sudan, while some 5,000 Eritrean refugees are living in “dire” conditions in the area of Shire. The U.N. says 25 of the refugees are women and girls of reproductive age.
“I call on all parties involved in the hostilities in the Tigray region to commit to a zero-tolerance policy for crimes of sexual violence, in line with their respective obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law,” Patten said.