'500 victims of gender-based violence in Tigray include girls under 18'

By Addis Getachew

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) – The Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) in its latest report claimed that 70 of the 500 cases of gender-based violence, including rape, was committed against girls under 18 years of age.

As a joint investigation by the UN and Ethiopian human rights bodies continues, Ethiopia admitted that 25 soldiers suspected of involvement in rape cases were being court martialed.

On Nov. 3 last year, the now defunct Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) launched attacks against the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Defense Forces stationed in the northernmost region of Tigray, killing and maiming soldiers and looting sizable military hardware.

On Nov. 4, the Horn of Africa country launched a sweeping law enforcement operation against the TPLF forces.

More than seven months into the conflict, sporadic fighting is still being reported in a few places in the region where more than a million people are reported to have been displaced, while more than 60,000 people fled to neighboring Sudan.

“The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification [IPC] shows that over 350,000 people are already facing catastrophic conditions,” OCHA said, adding that since the Northern Ethiopia response plan on May 1, over 2.3 million people out of the targeted 5.2 million were reached with food aid.

It said: “Partners [humanitarian] continue to access previously hard-to-reach areas, particularly remote rural areas, mapping dozens of locations with unexploded ordnances and remnants of war.”

The Ethiopian government earlier said it provided humanitarian assistance to more than 3.4 million people in coordination with partners and the contribution from the international humanitarian partners amounted to 35% of the total assistance provided.