The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it has started visiting captive soldiers in the Tigray region.
The Tigray People’s Defence Force (TPDF) had announced in a video the capturing of over 7,000 ‘Ethiopian’ soldiers.
According to the TPDF, the captive soldiers walked from Abdi Eshir, about 75 km southwest of Mekele, for four days.
However, there are claims that the number of the captive soldiers may have been exaggerated.
‘Visiting people in places of detention is a core part of our mandate and an established role for the ICRC in the country’, ICRC’s Head of Operations in Ethiopia, Maria Soledad Rueda Garcia, said in a statement.
‘We are pleased to now be extending this important activity in Tigray.
‘As elsewhere in Ethiopia, our visits in Tigray focus on the protection and dignity of the detained individuals. Our ongoing bilateral dialogue with the concerned authorities is essential to that work’.
In 2020 the ICRC visited some 72,000 persons deprived of their liberty in over 50 places of detention throughout Ethiopia, providing basic material assistance, helping with access to water and sanitation, and facilitating contacts between detainees and their families.
The ENDF mounted an offensive in Tigray last November, attacking the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after its members allegedly attacked a northern command of the ENDF.
Some 1.7 million people have been displaced by the fighting between the ENDF and TPLF, with 60,000 refugees crossing the border into neighbouring Sudan.
Also, more than 1,200 incidents of serious sexual and gender-based violence have been reported.
Photo source: UNOCHA