The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC/the Commission) stated that the security situation of civilians in the war affected areas in the Tigray Region as well as surrounding areas and persons displaced as a result could turn into a humanitarian crisis. The Commission has published a Brief Monitoring Report of its investigative mission in Gondar and Dansha from December 15 to December 20, 2020 and in Bissober and Ullaga Kebeles/Villages of Chercher Woreda in Raya Azebo from December 31 ,2020 to January 5, 2021. The report presents the findings from EHRC visits to affected areas, hospitals and temporary shelters for displaced persons as well as testimonies from government and non-government sources, victims and other relevant bodies.    

EHRC further stated that the findings of the Commission’s on-going investigation missions in Mekelle and other parts of Tigray region since January 10, 2021, will also inform upcoming reports as it continues to monitor developments in the region and the situation of civilians and internally displaced persons.

In Dansha, Humera, Bissober and Ullaga, where the investigation mission principally focused for this report, the war has led to civilian casualties including death, bodily harm, exposed civilian residences and commercial properties to looting and various damages, and caused the destruction of infrastructure in the areas. The continued disruption of public services such as electricity and water risks further exacerbating the humanitarian situation for residents and displaced persons. In Bissober and Ullaga, 31 civilians have died, 104 residential houses were partially or completely destroyed by fire and the local school and health centres sustained heavy damage.

In Dansha and Humera, public service providing institutions, infrastructure and civilian residential and commercial properties were looted. Civilians further report fearing for their safety because of their ethnicity and due to the lack of security in the areas. Overall, the security situation in all four cities included in the Commission’s two missions and the fact that the justice sector bodies have still not resumed their operations, has made it difficult to ensure the protection and safety of civilians.

Pointing to the related suffering that could ensue as a result, EHRC Chief Commissioner Daniel Bekele said, “The unstable security situation in the areas covered by the monitoring and investigative missions, has contributed to an increase of the humanitarian need and gravely tested the resilience of both the residents and the displaced persons.” Citing from the report that most of those affected by the war and persons displaced still rely on support from hosting communities or have received only one round of humanitarian assistance, he added, “The civilian suffering and the degree of damage to the areas, calls for an immediate and high level of collaboration among all relevant bodies.”

Find full report here: Brief Monitoring Report on the Situation of Civilians in Humera, Dansha and Bissober