Ethiopia on Tuesday rejected a report by U.N. investigators that accused Addis Ababa of possible ongoing crimes against humanity in its war-torn Tigray region, including using starvation as a weapon.
The Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia said it had found evidence of widespread violations by all sides since fighting erupted in Tigray nearly two years ago.
This included the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel laureate, and its allies who were “intentionally causing great suffering” by denying aid to Tigray, a region of 6 million.
Kaari Betty Murungi, one of the commission’s three independent rights experts, and its chair, said the denial of food, medicine and basic services was “having a devastating impact on the civilian population.”
“We have reasonable grounds to believe it amounts to a crime against humanity,” she said on Monday following the release of the report, the commission’s first.
“We also have reasonable grounds to believe that the federal government is using starvation as a method of warfare,” she added.
Ethiopia’s permanent representative to the U.N. in Geneva, Zenebe Kebede, said the commission was “politically motivated” and its conclusions were “self-contradictory and biased.”
“There is not any single evidence that shows the government of Ethiopia used humanitarian aid as an instrument of war,” the envoy told AFP, describing the report as “a mockery” and “rubbish.”
“Therefore, we have no other option but to reject this report.”
He said investigators had ignored atrocities by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which ruled Ethiopia for decades before Abiy came to power in 2018, and which Addis Ababa considers a terrorist group.