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News: Rights commission engages Tigray interim gov’t over misleading report on IDPs status

EHRC head office building (Photo: Addis Standard)

Addis Abeba – The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has responded to concerns raised by the Tigray Regional Interim Administration regarding the scope and findings of its recent report on the situations of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ethiopia. 

On Thursday, the Tigray Regional Interim Administration’s Presidential Office criticized aspects of the EHRC report, stating that claims of many displaced Tigray residents returning home and receiving aid were inaccurate. The interim administration noted that millions of Tigray natives remain displaced from their homes and in need of humanitarian assistance, despite calls for evacuees to safely return.

Moreover, the Tigray Interim Administration strongly condemned the original report, describing it as deliberately misleading and detrimental to peace efforts. It urged the federal government to take corrective action in response to the EHRC’s “irresponsible misinformation.”

According to the latest report by the UN, more than one million Tigrayans are estimated to remain internally displaced as a result of the two year brutal war, while an estimated over 1.5 million IDPs have since returned, requiring assistance. “IDPs continue to shelter in 106 schools due to lack of support to return to villages of origin or to be relocated to alternative land, causing 163,000 children to remain out of school for three consecutive years,” the October report by the UN said.

In September this year, a report by Addis Standard revealed a pattern of continued displacement and human rights violations in the western Tigray areas which are still under the control of Amhara forces. Over the course of five days in one week alone, 1,436 people have been displaced, with many seeking refuge at the Endabaguna Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Center, located near Shire town in the northwestern Tigray zone. The center serves those displaced from 11 different woredas of western Tigray, such as Qafta, Humera, Qorarit, Welkayit, Setit, Maikadra, and Dansha.

Following the criticisms from Tigray interim government, the EHRC acknowledged on social media that the Tigray region was outside the scope of the annual report, which focused on displacement patterns in Afar, Amhara, and other regions from June 2022 to June 2023 due to access restrictions at the time. The commission also pledged to engage the interim administration to resolve the misunderstanding.

In a statement released today, subsequent to discussions made with officials of the Tigray interim administration, the Commission said it clarified to the officials that the report covered IDPs from the Amhara and Afar regions displaced during the conflict in northern Ethiopia, but did not include data from the Tigray region due to access restrictions at the time of reporting.

“In human rights monitoring and investigation, especially in the current difficult social and political context and prevalence of social media, such misunderstandings as well as deliberately disseminated misinformation are likely to be encountered. However, the Commission will continue its investigation and monitoring work to the best of its ability and whenever the security situation permits,” said Rakeb Messele, EHRC Deputy Chief Commissioner.

The EHRC said a report covering the human rights situation in Tigray after the signing of the Pretoria peace agreement which involved responses from sectoral offices of the Tigray interim administration will be released after completion of the appropriate processes.

The EHRC’s report detailed the human rights circumstances of over 369,000 internally displaced, migrant and forcibly relocated individuals across Ethiopia based on field investigations and research, with repeated calls for international aid to IDPs in Tigray and other regions. AS

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