Officials of the Tigray Interim Administration (TIA) have expressed outrage in response to a report by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), leading the Commission to issue a correction statement.
Despite the attempt to clarify the situation, a misunderstanding still persists between the administration and the commission regarding the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Tigray.
The EHRC’s annual IDPs report, which was released on October 20, 2023, examined eight regional states. Though the report excluded Tigray, it highlighted that individuals who had been displaced by the conflict in ‘northern Ethiopia’ had returned to their homes.
It also indicated a significant decrease in the number of IDPs since the peace agreement was signed between the Federal Government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
However, the Tigray Interim Administration vehemently criticized the commission’s report, as a deliberate misrepresentation aimed at misleading the international community. The Administration’s statement described the EHRC’s report as “a mockery and a continuation of its former attempts to prolong the suffering of the people of Tigray.”
The Administration maintained that no concrete actions had been taken to resettle IDPs in Tigray.
In a press statement released on October 26, 2023, the Interim Admin emphasized that IDPs in Tigray were still enduring immense suffering and requested the EHRC to correct its report on IDPs.
The TIA officials argued that despite the Pretoria agreement, nearly one million IDPs in Tigray remain unable to return home as Amhara and Eritrean forces occupy several areas of the region. The officials blame the federal government for failing to fulfill its duty of clearing Tigray’s territory from non-ENDF forces, as stipulated in the Pretoria agreement.
Responding to the TIA’s complaint, the EHRC provided further clarification on October 27, 2023, stating that the complaint was a simple misinterpretation of their initial statement.
The Commission’s explanation reaffirmed that Tigray was never included in its annual report on IDPs.
Rakeb Messele, deputy chief commissioner of the EHRC, emphasized that the research for the report was conducted during a state of war in Tigray, which is why the region was excluded.
The annual report solely covered the eight other regional states of the country.
Rakeb clarified that the TIA misunderstood the report, as the name “Tigray” was not mentioned anywhere in the general report.
“We have mentioned the names of the eight regions several times in the report, but Tigray’s name was not stated anywhere. Therefore, it might be a matter of misunderstanding, but we did not misrepresent the region,” explained Rakeb.
EHRC’s statement, issued yesterday, stated, “Tigray is not included in the IDPs report EHRC released last week. The statement issued by the TIA president’s office is based on a misunderstanding. We have communicated with the administration’s officials and cleared the miscommunication.”
However, officials at the TIA told The Reporter that they had not been contacted by the EHRC to clarify the issue.
When asked about whether there had been any consensus reached between the TIA and the Commission regarding the settlement of IDPs, Amanuel Assefa, the chief cabinet secretariat of the TIA, claimed to have no knowledge of any communication with the Commission and denied the occurrence of any conversations in his presence.
Amanuel stressed the importance of accurately incorporating the return of IDPs and referencing the Pretoria agreement. Excluding Tigray from any agreement related to the Pretoria agreement, according to him, would render it irrelevant.
“Any agreement related to the Pretoria agreement should specifically involve both Tigray and the federal government,” Amanuel told The Reporter.