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The United Nations human rights office says at least 183 people have been killed in clashes in Ethiopia’s Amhara region since July as Amhara fighters resist efforts by the federal government to disband them.
The U.N. office on Tuesday also said the human rights situation in Ethiopia is deteriorating, with more than 1,000 people reportedly arrested under a state of emergency declared early this month over the unrest.
“Many of those detained were reported to be young people of Amhara ethnic origin suspected of being Fano supporters,” the U.N. office said, referring to the name of the Amhara militia. “Since early August, mass house-to-house searches have reportedly been taking place, and at least three Ethiopian journalists covering the situation in the Amhara region have been detained.”
ETHIOPIA DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY AS REGIONAL VIOLENCE SPIRALS OUT OF CONTROL
An unidentified armed militia fighter walks down a path as villagers flee with their belongings in the other direction in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia on Sept. 9, 2021. (AP Photo, File)
An unidentified armed militia fighter walks down a path as villagers flee with their belongings in the other direction in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia on Sept. 9, 2021.
The U.N. statement said detainees have reportedly been held in improvised detention centres without basic amenities. It called for those arbitrarily detained to be released and for authorities to stop “mass arrests.”
The human rights office called for an end to the fighting as the military retakes towns that had been seized by the Amhara fighters and militia members flee into rural areas.
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In one of the deadliest incidents, a health official earlier this month told The Associated Press that an airstrike on a crowded town square in the Finote Selam community killed at least 26 people. The federal government didn’t comment.
Amhara fighters had fought alongside the military in the two-year conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region that ended in November with a peace agreement. The conflict spilled into the Amhara region when Tigray forces at one point tried to approach the capital, Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia’s government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has struggled for years to contain various conflicts often along ethnic lines. The country, Africa’s second most populous, has long been seen as an important security partner in the Horn of Africa, but the government has criticized or limited outside efforts — including by U.N. investigators — to understand the toll of abuses in the conflicts.