Update May 2022

From Atrocities Watch Monitor N° 4, May 2022
Read full newsletter here.

The situation in Ethiopia has been generally calm although unpredictable. Despite the declaration of a “humanitarian truce” over a month ago, humanitarian aid is not steadily reaching northern Ethiopia, the federal government has insisted that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) withdraw to Tigray, meanwhile the TPLF has insisted that aid should flow freely and Amhara forces should withdraw from western Tigray first.[1] On 1 April an aid convoy entered Tigray for the first time by land since December 2021,[2] but three weeks after the truce only 4% of required food had reached targeted areas.[3] On 12 April, the Tigrayan government announced the withdrawal of Tigray forces from Afar.[4] On 16 April a second convoy of 50 trucks reached Tigray.[5] TPLF spokesperson, Getachew Reda, on April 26 said that no Tigrayan forces remained in Afar in hopes that more aid will enter Tigray.[6] Only 144 trucks had reached Tigray between the announcement of the ceasefire and the end of April, the latest 74 arrived on 25 April.[7] The humanitarian situation is dire, due to lack of food supplies, 240 patients were discharged from Tigray’s main hospital in mid-April and new patients without food or money were not being admitted. Medication was running low, and doctors have been trying to treat diseases with any antibiotics they could scrounge.[8] Doctors estimate at least 1,900 children under the age of 5 have died from malnutrition in the region between March 2021 and April 2022.[9]

Eritrean refugees were once again targeted in an attack that took place on 2 April where six unknown gunmen opened fire on civilians at the Alem-Wach refugee camp, two were killed and six were injured. Another refugee died on 11 April, due to lack of medical care.[10]

Clashes between government forces and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)-Shane continued throughout April, the Oromo Regional Government announced joint operations with the federal security forces on 11 April,[11] a week later, over 300 civilians had been arrested suspected of supporting the OLF-Shane in Boji.[12] ACLED recorded events in Amhara and Oromia involving the Fano, an Amhara militia. The group’s presence is highly controversial and has exacerbated tensions between states. On 10 April, clashes were recorded between members of the Ethiopian National Defence Forces and Fano militias.[13] Local residents reported that Fano militia opened fire against civilians on 18 April, in the Oromo Special Zone, killing 10 and wounding at least 34.[14] On the week of 16 April, renewed fighting was reported in the contested area of Oromia Special Zone in Amhara region, at least 20 people were killed and 48 injured. In the North Shewa Zone, property was looted and more than 3,000 people were forcibly displaced.[15]

A report from Gondar University revealed mass graves where Amharas were massacred by TPLF forces in Wolkayit Tegede Telemtg between 1983 and 1990. According to information in the report, these crimes may amount to genocide.[16] In Gondar, on 27 April, 20 Muslim worshippers were killed and there was an attempt to set fire to three mosques in an attack that seems unrelated to the conflicts in neighbouring areas.[17]


On 4 November 2020, following months of political tensions, the federal government of Ethiopia launched a military offensive in the Tigray region against forces loyal to the governing TPLF. The conflict has drawn in troops from nearby Eritrea and Ethiopia’s Amhara region and there have been frequent claims of rapes, massacre, enslavement, and widespread humanitarian abuses. Following the expansion of the conflict to Amhara and other regions, there was an alarming rise in ethnic-based hate speech particularly against Tigrayans. On 18 October 2021, in response to the TDF advances, the ENDF launched an airstrike campaign on Tigray’s capital, Mekelle. Airstrikes continued to hit the Tigray region into 2022.

International Response:

The spokesperson for UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres’, issued a statement welcoming the news of aid reaching Tigray for the first time after the declaration of truce and called for the restoration of basic services.[18]

A joint report by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch documented ethnic cleansing in Western Tigray.[19]The US State Department[20] as well as the EU spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy[21] released statements condemning the ethnically motivated atrocities committed by Amhara authorities and requested further investigation to establish accountability and ensure justice for victims.

On April 13, the UN Security Council convened to discuss on Women, Peace and Security, for sexual violence in armed conflict, Hilina Berhanu from Ethiopia spoke of the use of rape as a tactic of war or means of reprisal in the Tigray region. She urged the UNSC to demand that “all efforts towards documenting, investigating and preventing sexual violence in conflict are centred around survivors” and urged the three African countries in the Council (the A3) to work with the UN and AU on this issue.[22] A day later, the Council discussed Ethiopia in closed session under “any other business,” the meeting was requested for the first time by A3 and discussed the security and humanitarian situation in the northern part of the country.[23]

USAID Samantha Power met with the Ethiopian Minister of Finance on 23 April. She expressed concern regarding humanitarian stressed that much more can be done to facilitate significant and sustained humanitarian access and restore essential services to the region.[24]

[1] Agenzia Fides, “”Intentional mass starvation”: humanitarian truce in Tigray is at stake,” 20 April 2022, http://www.fides.org/en/news/72024-AFRICA_ETHIOPIA_Intentional_mass_starvation_humanitarian_truce_in_Tigray_is_at_stake

[2] Security Council Report, Ethiopia: Meeting under “Any Other Business,” 13 April 2022, https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/whatsinblue/2022/04/ethiopia-meeting-under-any-other-business-3.php

[3] News 24, “Only 4% of required aid has reached Tigray during mini-truce, says WHO chief,” 19 April 2022, https://www.news24.com/news24/africa/news/only-4-of-required-aid-has-reached-tigray-during-mini-truce-says-who-chief-20220419

[4] Twitter, Tigray Television (@Tigrai_TV), “Statement of the Tigrai Government,” 12 April 2022, https://twitter.com/Tigrai_TV/status/1513963347917557763

[5] Xinhuanet, “UN aid convoy reaches Ethiopia’s conflict-hit Tigray region,” 16 April 2022, https://english.news.cn/africa/20220416/b6ba63ced04e45edae40abd3c6256d45/c.html

[6] Twitter, Getachew K Reda (@reda_getachew), 26 April 2022, https://twitter.com/reda_getachew/status/1519047981361770497

[7] Al Jazeera, “Tigray rebels leave Ethiopia’s Afar region: TPLF spokesperson,” 25 April 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/4/25/tigray-rebels-leave-ethiopias-afar-region-officials

[8] Reuters, “Main hospital in Ethiopia’s Tigray’s region runs out of food,” 22 April 2022,https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/main-hospital-ethiopias-tigrays-region-runs-out-food-2022-04-21/?taid=62627920e7253e0001307ab3&utm_campaign=trueAnthem:+Trending+Content&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=twitter

[9] The National News, “Tigray war claims the lives of at least 1,900 children through malnutrition,” 20 April 2022, https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/africa/2022/04/20/tigray-war-claims-the-lives-of-at-least-1900-children-through-malnutrition/

[10] Human Rights Concern Eritrea, “The Dilemma of Eritrean Refugees in Alem-Wach camp in Amhara Region, and in Mai Aini and Adi Harush camps in Tigray – Ethiopia,” 15 April 2022, https://hrc-eritrea.org/the-dilemma-of-eritrean-refugees-in-alem-wach-camp-in-amhara-region-and-in-mai-aini-and-adi-harush-camps-in-tigray-ethiopia/

[11] Ethiopia Peace Observatory, EPO Weekly 2-8 April 2022, 13 April 2022, https://epo.acleddata.com/2022/04/13/epo-weekly-2-8-april-2022/

[12] Ethiopia Peace Observatory, EPO Weekly 9-15 April 2022, 19 April 2022, https://epo.acleddata.com/2022/04/19/epo-weekly-9-15-april-2022/

[13] Ibid.

[14] Addis Standard, “News Analysis: Conflict resurfaces in Oromo Special zone, North Showa zones of Amhara region,” 19 April 2022, https://addisstandard.com/news-analysis-conflict-resurfaces-in-oromo-zone-north-showa-zones-of-amhara-region/

[15] Ethiopia Peace Observatory, EPO Weekly 16-22 April 2022, 26 April 2022, https://epo.acleddata.com/2022/04/26/epo-weekly-16-22-april-2022/

[16] Facebook, Amhara Media Corporation, 3 April 2022, https://www.facebook.com/AmharaMediaCorporation/posts/1781251845383135

[17] Al Jazeera, “Ambush kills 20 Muslim worshippers in Ethiopia’s Amhara region,” 27 April 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/4/27/ambush-kills-20-muslim-worshippers-in-ethiopias-amhara-region

[18] UNSG, Press Release, “Welcoming News of Food Aid Reaching Ethiopia’s Tigray, Afar Regions, Secretary-General Reiterates Call to Restore Public Services,” 6 April 2022, https://www.un.org/press/en/2022/sgsm21232.doc.htm

[19] Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, “We Will Erase You from This Land,” 6 April 2022, https://www.hrw.org/report/2022/04/06/we-will-erase-you-land/crimes-against-humanity-and-ethnic-cleansing-ethiopias

[20] US Department of State, Press Statement, Reports of Mass Atrocities in Western Tigray, 8 April 2022, https://www.state.gov/reports-of-mass-atrocities-in-western-tigray/

[21] European Union External Action, Ethiopia/Tigray: Spokesperson statement on the reports on human rights violations and abuses of civilians, 9 April 2022, https://www.eeas.europa.eu/eeas/ethiopiatigray-spokesperson-statement-reports-human-rights-violations-and-abuses-civilians_en

[22] UN News, “Justice critical to fighting sexual violence in conflict,” 13 April 2022, https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/04/1116192

[23] Security Council Report, Ethiopia: Meeting under “Any Other Business,” 13 April 2022, https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/whatsinblue/2022/04/ethiopia-meeting-under-any-other-business-3.php

[24] USAID, Administrator Samantha Power meets Ethiopian Minister of Finance Ahmed Shide, 23 April 2022, https://www.usaid.gov/news-information/press-releases/apr-23-2022-administrator-samantha-power-meets-ethiopian-minister-finance