HRW Urges Actions on Human Rights Violations in Amhara

HRW Urges Ethiopia’s International Partners to Turn on their Eyes on Human Rights Violations in Amhara

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Ethiopia’s international partners to stop turning a blind eye to the ongoing human rights violations in the Amhara region.

In a recently released report, HRW has highlighted the serious and widespread abuses committed by government security forces, particularly in restricting access to health services.

The report, which covers a period from August 2023 to May 2024, details how security forces have systematically targeted health facilities, preventing the people of the Amhara region from receiving essential medical care.

“Ethiopian federal forces operating with near impunity are unsurprisingly disregarding civilian lives by attacking medical facilities that are providing desperately needed care,” said Laetitia Bader, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “So long as the government feels no pressure to hold abusive forces to account, such atrocities are likely to continue.”

HRW’s investigation included interviews with 58 victims and eyewitnesses, revealing disturbing accounts of intimidation and violence.

The 66-page report, “‘If the Soldier Dies, It’s On You’: Attacks on Medical Care in Ethiopia’s Amhara Conflict,” documents how Ethiopian federal forces and a government-affiliated militia have attacked medical workers, healthcare facilities, and transports in at least 13 towns since the outbreak of fighting between Ethiopian federal forces and Amhara militia known as Fano in August 2023.

According to the report, government soldiers have threatened to hold doctors responsible if soldiers die while receiving treatment in hospitals. Additionally, ambulances carrying patients, medical personnel, and supplies have been destroyed by security forces.

HRW further documented incidents where soldiers entered medical facilities, disrupted services, refused to treat wounded Fano militants, and unlawfully arrested and assaulted medical personnel.

The organization condemned the security forces for interfering with humanitarian activities beyond medical treatment, leaving the people of the Amhara region without critical support.

HRW also reported that medical professionals have been subjected to arbitrary arrests, detentions in military camps, threats, and accusations of being “Fano’s doctors.”

Patients undergoing treatment were forcibly removed from medical facilities under the pretense of being connected to the Fano militants, instilling fear and preventing others from seeking medical help.

HRW criticized international institutions, including the African Union and the European Union, for their inaction despite the ongoing violations.

The organization urged these entities to publicly condemn the human rights abuses and pressure the Ethiopian government to address the crisis in the Amhara region.

HRW added that, the Ethiopian government should immediately end attacks on medical professionals, patients, health facilities, and transports in the Amhara region.

Ethiopian authorities should also work to strengthen the country’s legal framework to protect health care by passing specific legislation that protects healthcare workers, medical professionals, and health facilities, the institution stated in its report.

The conflict between government security forces and Fano militants intensified after the federal government decided to reorganize the regional special forces.

This decision led to an escalation of violence, prompting a state of emergency that lasted for 10 months, starting a year ago.

HRW’s report underscores the urgent need for international intervention to protect the rights and well-being of the Amhara people.


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