NAIROBI, Kenya -- A United Nations rights panel focusing on Ethiopia says it's alarmed over continued violations and abuses in the East African country.
The Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia, created by the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate abuses and rights violations in Ethiopia, warned the country is experiencing escalating violence and a dire humanitarian crisis.
“The subject matter of our inquiry appears to be perpetrated with impunity even now by various parties to the conflict,” commission chairwoman Betty Murungi said Thursday. “The commission emphasizes the responsibility of the government of Ethiopia to bring to an end such violations on its territory and bring those responsible to justice.”
Murungi noted that “any spread of violence against civilians is an early warning indicator and a precursor for further atrocity crimes.”
The Geneva-based panel has a mandate to investigate allegations of violations of international human rights, humanitarian, and refugee law since deadly war erupted in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region in November 2020.
Violence — some of it along ethnic lines — has since spread to other parts of the country, including in the Oromia and Amhara regions.
Witnesses recently told the AP more than 400 ethnic Amharas were killed in Oromia on June 18, shocking Ethiopians and the international community.
On Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Ethiopia's prime minister said 338 people are now confirmed to have died in an attack earlier in June in Oromia’s West Wellega area. Billene Seyoum blamed the Oromo Liberation Army, or OLA, for the killings, saying the rebel group controls “pockets of Oromia where they are terrorizing civilians.”
But an OLA spokesman denied the allegations and said it was carried out by the government troops and a local militia. It called for an independent investigation.
The U.N. Ethiopia rights commission is expected to deliver a written report to the U.N. General Assembly later this year.