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The United Nations said today, Thursday, that five medical clinics in the Tigray region of Ethiopia have recorded more than 500 rape cases, warning that due to the stigma attached to the matter and the lack of health services, the actual number of cases is likely to be much higher.
“Women said they were raped by armed elements, and they told stories of gang rape and rape in front of families, and men were forced to rape women from their families under the threat of violence,” Wafa Saeed, the deputy UN aid coordinator in Ethiopia, said in a testimony to the member states of the international organization in New York. .
And it indicated that at least 516 rape cases were recorded in five medical facilities in Muqli, Adigrat, Walker, Shire and Aksum.
“Given the fact that most health facilities are not functioning, and the stigma associated with rape,” said Wafa Saeed, “the actual numbers are expected to be much higher.”
On Monday, 12 senior officials of the world body called for an end to indiscriminate attacks against civilians in Tigray, citing reports of rape and “other horrific forms of sexual violence.”
Fighting erupted in Tigray in November between government forces and the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also said that forces from Eritrea were in the area.
Radwan Hussain, the spokesperson for the government’s emergency work mission regarding Tigray, Belin Seyoum, spokeswoman for the prime minister, Mullo Nega, head of the Tigray Interim Administration, Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Salih Muhammad, and Eritrean Information Minister Yamani Gebremeskel did not respond to calls and letters requesting comment on statements. The United Nations today, Thursday.
The fighting in Tigray has claimed thousands of lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people in the mountainous region of nearly five million people.
“Most of the displaced fled with nothing but the clothes they wore,” said Wafa Saeed. Generally they are in shock and tell stories of the difficult journey they made in search of safety. Some of them talked about walking for two weeks and others about 500 kilometers. ”
She added, “Among those who traveled with them, it was reported that some were killed, especially the young ones, and it was reported that people were beaten and women were raped.”
The United Nations expressed concern about the atrocities, while US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken described the actions that had been carried out as ethnic cleansing. Ethiopia rejected Blinken’s claim.
This week, Abiy Ahmed acknowledged for the first time that atrocities such as rape had taken place and said that any soldiers who had committed crimes would be punished.
Dozens of witnesses in Tigray told Reuters that Eritrean soldiers regularly killed civilians, committed gang rape, tortured women and looted homes and crops. Eritrea did not respond to inquiries regarding the reports of atrocities.
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