On behalf of my client, the Foundation Human Rights for Eritreans, I am writing to urge the Security Council to take action in the war in Tigray, in particular vis-à-vis the role of the State of Eritrea in this conflict. The Foundation is particularly concerned given the grave violations of human rights committed by the Eritrean military forces (the Eritrean Defence Force or “EDF”) in the war in Tigray, and given the deep and Íar-reaching impact oí this war on the human rights of Eritreans both in Eritrea and in the extensive diaspora.
The war in Tigray has been ongoing since 3 November 2020. From the very first moment, the EDF was deeply involved in this war. The EDF wholly consists of conscripts who have been forced to serve under the so-called Eritrean ‘national service’, which has been qualified by the UN Commission of lnquiry as “enslavement’ and a “crime against humanity’. The EDF force includes minors. Currently, Eritrea is understood to be operating in a united front on the border with Tigray and in Western Tigray.
From the early stages oÍ the war in Tigray, there arose clear and credible evidence that the EDF committed grave violations of human rights in Tigray, including the perpetration of massacres, the systematic use of rape and starvation as weapons of war, the deliberate destruction of refugee camps in Tigray and forced return of Eritrean refugees to Eritrea, as well as the deliberate destruction of health facilities in Tigray.
This evidence was conÍirmed by the Íirst report of the EHRC/OHCHR Joint Investigation into the war in Tigray. The Joint lnvestigation noted that the abuses were marked by “extreme brutality’ that could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and emphasized that “the big numbers of violations” could be linked to Ethiopian and Eritrean forces.
As such, the State of Eritrea has exported its long-standing violations of human rights with impunity. A few months ago, the Special Rapporteur For Eritrea observed that the EDF “continued to be involved in serious human rights and humanitarian law violations in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia; While there was a short lull in the hostilities in Tigray over the past summer during the humanitarian cease-fire, at the end of August the war resumed in fullforce.
Eritrea is a key player in this war, which fact was condemned by the White House on 2 September 2022.
The war in Tigray also leads to continued grave human rights violations in Tigray, as the Special Rapporteur for Eritrea concluded: “The involvement of Eritrea in the war in Ethiopia has also compounded the severe human rights challenges Eritrea faces and reinforced pre-existing patterns of vioIations.