CW 38/2022: Under the auspices of the United Nations
Press Review 16 September 2022 to 23 September 2022

Ethiopia rejects UN report on human rights crimes

On Tuesday, the Ethiopian government rejected the United Nations (UN) report, submitted the day before, on crimes against humanity in the war between the Ethiopian central government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). This is the first report of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHRE), which was established in December 2021 on the basis of a UN Human Rights Council resolution for an initial period of one year to document human rights compliance and violations in Ethiopia. The commission, chaired by Kenyan lawyer Kaari Betty Murungi and comprising a total of three independent international human rights experts, said in its report that it had found evidence of human rights violations by all warring parties since fighting began in November 2020 in the northern region of Tigray. According to the commission’s chairperson, there were also reasonable grounds to believe that the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was using starvation as a method of warfare and deliberately causing greater suffering to the people of the region. The Commission pointed to the devastating situation in the Tigray region, inhabited by six million people, who are denied access to urgently needed humanitarian supplies such as food and medicine. Ethiopia’s UN Ambassador, Zenebe Kebede, accused the Commission of political motivation behind the report and spoke of contradictory and biased conclusions, which is why Ethiopia rejected the report. The report comes at a time of increasing diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict, but intensifying fighting. The US special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, announced on Tuesday that Eritrean troops had been spotted crossing the border in northern Ethiopia. Hammer was returning from an 11-day stay from Ethiopia that was meant to set the initial course for African Union-led peace talks between Ethiopia’s government and Tigray’s forces. Meanwhile, the Eritrean government reportedly called for a general mobilisation last week.

African issues at the UN General Assembly

The 77th General Assembly of the UN has been taking place at its headquarters in New York since Tuesday. The dominant topics of the assembly, which is being held in attendance for the first time since 2020, are the war in Ukraine, food security and climate change. The meeting is also attended by numerous African heads of state and government. Macky Sall, President of Senegal and current Chair of the African Union (AU), is calling for an AU seat at the G20 to ensure better representation of African citizens. More resources should also be made available to African states in the fight against the consequences of climate change, to which the African continent contributes the least but from which it suffers the most. William Ruto, the new Kenyan president, called climate change Africa’s greatest challenge and in this context demanded more debt relief for African states to be able to successfully counter the consequences. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari also underlined the strong impact of climate change on Africa. However, his speech had another main concern: he called on other heads of state not to extend terms of office unconstitutionally, as this would be state threatening. He himself promised free and fair elections in Nigeria in 2023, when his second term will end and his successor will be elected. At the sidelines of the General Assembly, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also held a special summit. This dealt with the dispute between Côte d’Ivoire and Mali over 46 Ivorian soldiers held in Mali. At this special summit, it was also decided to impose gradual sanctions against personalities of the military junta in Guinea, as no acceptable transition plan for the return to democratic structures has been presented by the latter so far. Another special summit, attended by some African states and France, focused on security in the Sahel. The aim of the summit was to find solutions to the problems of climate change, terrorism and crime that destabilise the region. The UN General Assembly ends next Monday.

In other news

A safe ride-sharing service for women – that is the promise of the Nigerian ride-hailing app HerRyde. The initiative of founders Monsurah Alli-Oluwafuyi, Muhammad Muazu and Kamaldeen Ibrahim was launched in Abuja in August 2022 with 10 female drivers and the demand is high: already in the first month, HerRyde recorded 500 rides. The app is by women for women and not only creates a safe space for female drivers and passengers, but also new jobs explicitly for women. The reason for the founding were reports from women in local and social media about unpleasant taxi rides with male drivers and passengers as well as fear of sexual assault and robberies. While ride-hailing apps like Uber or Lyft announced that they have already received over a thousand reports of sexual assaults in the US, there have not been official statistics on such incidents in ride services in Nigeria so far. HerRyde‘s rapid success shows the need for safe rides for women, which is why the company plans to expand the service to other Nigerian cities.

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