Photograph of the Ethiopian flag flying outside an unidentified official building in the country

Ethiopia: As Mekelle changes hands, civilians remain in urgent need of protection

Commenting after regional forces took control of Mekelle, the regional capital of Tigray, from Ethiopian government forces yesterday, Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:

“Amnesty International remains deeply concerned about the safety of civilians in Tigray, who have endured months of fighting and serious human rights abuses, including war crimes, by all sides. As Ethiopian government forces retreat and Tigray regional forces re-establish control, protection of civilians must be paramount.

“We call on all parties to prevent further massacres and war crimes, including by ensuring no reprisal attacks are carried out by their troops or militias allied to them. All parties must ensure unfettered access to humanitarian aid for all civilians, and work to restore full access to communication as there is no access to the internet, print or broadcast media at the moment.”

The Tigray Defence Forces (TDF), the armed forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, regained control of Mekelle, the regional capital of Tigray, on 28 June following months of fighting with the Ethiopian army – the Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF), its allied militias, and troops from Eritrea.

There are fears of reprisal attacks against civilians in Tigray by all sides – retreating ENDF troops, their allied armed forces and militias in the neighbouring Amhara region and Eritrean forces and the TDF.

Access to information is currently hindered by a communication blackout, with no internet service, newspapers, radio or television broadcasts in the region.