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Ethiopian authorities have confirmed incidents of rape took place in the country’s ongoing conflict in the Tigray region.
The United Nations previously asserted that it had received reports of a high number of sexual violence and sex abuse in the region at the hands of Ethiopian troops. Some of the reports from individuals claimed that military soldiers had been forced to rape members of their own family.
“There are also disturbing reports of individuals allegedly forced to rape members of their own family, under threats of imminent violence,” Pramila Patten said in the U.N. statement. “Some women have also reportedly been forced by military elements to have sex in exchange for basic commodities, while medical centers have indicated an increase in the demand for emergency contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections.”
“We have received the report back from our Taskforce team on the ground in the Tigray region, they have unfortunately established rape has taken place conclusively and without a doubt,” Minister of Women Filsan Abdullahi tweeted.
An investigation is currently underway to ascertain the number of sexual assaults that have taken place in the region.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military offensive on Nov. 4 to oust the region’s ruling party after its troops captured federal military bases. After a month of conflict, Abiy declared victory, but Tigray’s rebel forces say the war continues.
The minister’s statement came hours after the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) revealed that 108 rapes had been reported to health departments in the past two months in the Tigray capital, Mekele. Rapes had also been reported in the communities of Adigrat, Wukro and Ayder.
“Local structures such as police and health facilities where victims of sexual violence would normally turn to report such crimes are no longer in place,” the report said per A.P. News. “Hence, there is a possibility that the actual number of cases might be higher and more widespread than the reported cases.”