Ethiopia: Michelle Bachelet calls for an investigation into the murders of civilians in the west of the country

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“I call on the Ethiopian authorities to ensure prompt investigations into this attack and to ensure that the victims and their families have the right to truth, justice and reparations, including by holding the perpetrators to account. accountable,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.

Hundreds of Amhara civilians were killed over the weekend in Ethiopia’s Oromia region.

“I am horrified by the senseless murder as well as the forced displacement of the local population during the attack on the village of Tole,” Ms. Bachelet added.

An unknown number of abductees

According to eyewitnesses, the massacre lasted several hours, after which many bodies were lying in the streets. The United Nations Human Rights Office spoke to witnesses.

The latter report that around 9 a.m. local time on June 18, a group of armed individuals descended on the village of Tole, whose population is predominantly Amhara, and began shooting at random. The armed individuals also reportedly burned down several houses during the four-hour assault.

According to the services of High Commissioner Bachelet, an unknown number of people were kidnapped during the attack and their whereabouts are unknown.

“I call on the authorities to take all necessary and legal measures to ensure that the abductees regain their freedom,” pleaded the UN human rights chief.

Amid rising tensions and violence that have erupted in various parts of Ethiopia in recent weeks, the High Commissioner urged Addis Ababa to guarantee and protect the right to life.

Hunger tightens its grip on more than 20 million people (WFP)

In addition, the combination of conflicts, climatic shocks, including drought in southern Ethiopia and soaring food prices are aggravating hunger in this country in the Horn of Africa, warned Thursday the UN, fearing that with the decline in financial resources, food and nutritional aid could dry up from July.

According to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), hunger is tightening its grip on more than 20 million people in Ethiopia. This is the case in the south and south-east of Ethiopia, where nearly 7.5 million people wake up hungry every day. The worrying situation comes as the country grapples with a fourth consecutive unsuccessful rainy season.

In northern Ethiopia, 19 months of war has also left more than 13 million people in need of humanitarian food aid, mainly in conflict-affected areas in the Afar, Amhara and of Tigray. In the Ethiopian region of Tigray alone, more than 20% of children under 5 and half of pregnant and breastfeeding women suffer from malnutrition.

Meanwhile, almost a third of parents (32%) in Zone 4 of Afar and 16% in the Amhara region said that their young children under five had been admitted to health centers during the previous three months due to malnutrition, according to a recent WFP assessment in conflict-affected areas in both regions.

Risks of a ripple effect of the war in Ukraine on food insecurity

Yet food and humanitarian supplies have flowed steadily into the Tigray region over the past two months since the government announced a humanitarian truce.

Since April 1, WFP has delivered more than 100,000 tons of food for its own operations and those of its partners, enough to feed nearly 6 million people for a month.

However fuel deliveries are not keeping pace and less than half of the required two million liters of fuel have entered the region in recent weeks. WFP was finally able to meet the food needs of more than 800,000 people in Tigray and has just completed its last deliveries of emergency food rations to 1.3 million people in Afar and Amhara.

Despite these encouraging figures, the combination of conflict and drought has caused inflation to explode. In April 2022, the food price index in Ethiopia had increased by 43% compared to the same month of the previous year. Vegetable oil and grain prices increased by more than 89% and 37% year-on-year.

The WFP now fears “a ripple effect of the war in Ukraine”, thus exacerbating the food security crisis in Ethiopia. Especially since more than three-quarters of WFP and government wheat – the basic cereal – comes from Ukraine or Russia.

An “impressive” financing gap of $470 million

“The crisis in Ukraine risks pushing the cost of wheat and fertilizer beyond the means of millions of farmers, thus threatening this year’s harvest”, warned the UN agency based in Rome, fearing “a crisis of imminent malnutrition due to severe lack of funding”.

Funds available to WFP to treat more than 1.4 million acutely malnourished women and children in northern Ethiopia are rapidly running out. Between January and April, WFP only provided nutritional treatment to 40% of targeted mothers and children in northern Ethiopia (560,000 out of 1.4 million), due to severe lack of funds.

Lack of funding from WFP has also resulted in reduced rations for more than 700,000 refugees in the country. Refugees now only receive 50% of their minimum nutritional needs.

WFP aims to reach more than 11 million of the most vulnerable people over the next six months, but faces “a staggering $470 million funding shortfall”.

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