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A legal non-profit on Tuesday filed a complaint against Ethiopia at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, alleging “massive human rights violations” against civilians in the war-torn northern region of Tigray, its lawyers said.

The 15-month conflict has seen reports of massacres, mass rapes and other atrocities by all sides, prompting the UN Human Rights Council in December to order a probe into a wide range of alleged abuses, a move condemned by Addis Ababa.

The non-profit Legal Action Worldwide (LAW) said it “represents victims from Tigray, who have provided testimony for the case but could not be listed as complainants due to fear of reprisals from the government”.

“Ethiopia is responsible for a wide range of human rights violations under the African Charter, including military targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure; mass and extra-judicial killings; gender-based sexual violence; arbitrary arrest and detention”, said a statement released by the lawyers.

“The complaint requests that the African Commission order Ethiopia to stop all violations and abuses against civilians in Tigray, allow unfettered access of food and humanitarian aid to the region, and ensure the protection of the human rights of all Ethiopians, especially in Tigray.”

There was no immediate comment on the case from the Ethiopian government or the commissioned headquartered in The Gambia.

Since the spiralling conflict between Ethiopian government forces and Tigrayan rebels erupted in November 2020, it has left thousands dead and, according to the United Nations, driven hundreds of thousands to the brink of starvation.

Tigray itself has for months been subject to what the UN says is a de-facto blockade, and the United States has accused the Ethiopian government of blocking aid, which in turn has blamed the rebels for the obstructions. Last month, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said that nearly 40 percent of people in Ethiopia’s Tigray were suffering “an extreme lack of food”, with fuel shortages forcing aid workers to deliver medicines and other crucial supplies by foot.

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