UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N.’s powerful budget committee rejected an attempt by Ethiopia on Thursday to deny funding for an investigation of human rights violations in the war between Ethiopian government forces and fighters from the country’s northern Tigray region.
A brief resolution proposed by Ethiopia in the General Assembly’s budget committee against approving resources for a team from the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to scrutinize abuses during the 16-month war was defeated by a vote of 27-66, with 39 abstentions.
The committee did approve a resolution recommending 14 positions for the Ethiopia investigation.
Louis Charbonneau, U.N. director at Human Rights Watch, said, “U.N. member countries sent a strong message to Ethiopia today that its brazen attempt to escape accountability for war crimes and other abuses by defunding the U.N.’s human rights investigation is unacceptable.”
“The U.N. should quickly get the investigation up and running,” he said. “The needs of the victims and their families are as great as ever.”
Over Ethiopia’s objections, the Human Rights Council voted in December to create an international team of experts to monitor and report on rights abuses in the country.
Months of political tensions between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government exploded into war in November 2020.
The war is believed to have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people and the displacement of millions.
Although the war has subsided in several places, notably within the Tigray and Amhara regions, concerns remain in the northeastern Afar region.
Aid into the Tigray region has been severely limited under what the United Nations described as a “de facto humanitarian blockade.”
On March 24, the Ethiopian government announced what it called an “indefinite humanitarian truce” in Tigray, saying the action was necessary to allow unimpeded relief supplies into the area.
The government statement said Tigray forces must reciprocate the truce for the humanitarian situation to improve in the region. It urged fighters loyal to Tigray’s fugitive leaders “to desist from all acts of further aggression and withdraw from areas they have occupied in neighboring regions.”
It was not clear if the immediate humanitarian truce was a step toward a comprehensive cease-fire.
Ethiopia’s government has faced growing international pressure to ease restrictions on the flow of humanitarian aid into Tigray.