Maat condemns the Continued Targeting of Humanitarian Workers during the Conflict in Ethiopia
Okeil: We call on the United Nations to conduct an international investigation into war crimes in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia
Nourhan Mustafa: Relief workers must be protected during armed conflicts in accordance with the Geneva Conventions
Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights condemns the continued targeting of humanitarian aid workers in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, during the ongoing military operations launched by the Ethiopian government on the region since November 2020, which led to the death and injury of thousands of civilians.
On Friday, June 25, 2021, three humanitarian aid providers working in the Tigray region were killed. They are: Maria Hernandez, an emergency coordinator; Yohannes Halefom Reda, an assistant coordinator; and Tedros Gebremariam Gebremichael, a driver.
Ayman Okeil, president of Maat, said expressed his deep concern over the ongoing violations and targeting of civilians and aid workers in the Tigray region, especially as the region has been cut off from the world since November 2020, when the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military operation aimed at expelling the local leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front. OKeil, we continue to follow-up the alarming situation and monitor the severe violations of international humanitarian law carried out by the Ethiopian government in the northern Tigray region, especially the recent raid carried out by the Ethiopian military forces, which resulted in the killing of dozens of civilians, and the displacement of thousands, which may amount to war crimes. Consequently, we call on the United Nations to conduct an independent international investigation into these crimes from the time the war broke out until now.
For her part, Nourhan Mustafa, director of the International Humanitarian Law Unit at Maat, confirmed that there are now more than 900,000 people face famine conditions, and thousands others are in danger thereof, despite Abiy Ahmed’s statements that there is “no hunger” in Tigray and this is a mistake. The International Humanitarian Law Unit observed that Ethiopia bans the entering of humanitarian aid and prevents access to people in need, in addition to targeting humanitarian and relief workers.
The Director of the International Humanitarian Law Unit called on the Ethiopian authorities to adhere to the humanitarian standards in their war in northern Ethiopia, and to take effective and rapid measures to protect humanitarian workers so that they can perform their humanitarian role and duty within the conflict-affected region.
Mustafa added that under the Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949, the Ethiopian government must protect relief workers during armed conflicts. According to observations, the situation in Tigray region can be classified as a non-international armed conflict, therefore the provisions of the international humanitarian law in the non-international armed conflicts prescribed in the second protocol additional to the Geneva Convention shall be applied to it.