Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | Xinhua | A UN official on Tuesday urged the Ethiopian government to promptly sign onto an agreement with the world body to prevent conflict-related sexual violence.
Pramila Patten, the UN secretary-general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, said extreme brutality and sexual violence have been hallmarks of the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
“Amid increasing and spreading hostilities and a worsening humanitarian situation in Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions, I am deeply concerned by continuing reports of targeted attacks against women, girls, boys, and men, including the systematic use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, a form of retaliation, punishment, humiliation, and also to stigmatize individuals based on their real or perceived ethnic identity,” she said in a statement.
She called on all parties to the conflict to immediately cease every form of sexual violence and end hostilities to pave the way for an inclusive and gender-responsive cease-fire and peacebuilding efforts.
Since March, she has engaged with the Ethiopian authorities on prevention and response measures that are urgently required to end sexual violence. On June 9, her office transmitted to the national authorities a draft framework of cooperation with the United Nations to prevent and address conflict-related sexual violence. The draft focuses on a range of preventive measures, particularly through justice and accountability, and emphasizes the criticality of full and unimpeded humanitarian access including for the provision of comprehensive services for survivors, said Patten.
“Such a framework of cooperation is critical for a rigorous and sustained response as it will enable the United Nations … to provide concrete and targeted support to national authorities, survivors, their communities, and local women’s organizations and networks,” she said. “I, therefore, urge the (Ethiopian) government to promptly sign this agreement and reiterate the full support of the United Nations in this regard.”
She noted that the agreement can serve as a basis to mobilize donor support for the implementation of the sexual and gender-based violence response in Ethiopia.
Beginning in the northernmost Tigray region more than a year ago, violence has spread into the adjacent Afar and Amhara regions.