Red Cross begins visiting ENDF troops detained in Tigray, northern Ethiopia
NAIROBI, Kenya – The International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC] began visiting members of the Ethiopian armed forces in the Tigray region earlier this week, the organization said, just days after Addis Ababa pledged to prosecute Tigray defense forces [TDF].
Despite the declaration of a ceasefire, TDF is advancing south, pursuing regional Amhara forces, who were part of the team that unleashed the genocide in Tigray. It is believed that thousands of Ethiopian national defense forces [ENDF] were captured in Tigray.
“Visiting people in places of detention is an essential part of our mandate and a well-established role of the ICRC in the country. We are happy to now expand this important activity in Tigray, ”said Maria Soledad Rueda Garcia, ICRC head of operations in Ethiopia.
“As elsewhere in Ethiopia, our visits to Tigray focus on the protection and dignity of those detained. Our permanent bilateral dialogue with the authorities concerned is essential to this work. “
Last week, some reports said the Red Cross had negotiated the release of the number of ENDF soldiers, with photos showing some of them being escorted out of detention camps. However, Axadlecould not establish the authenticity of the allegations.
Across Ethiopia, the Red Cross has worked to ensure that all prisoners of war are released. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray [TPLF] otherwise known as the Tigray Defense Forces [TDF] arrested a number of federal soldiers, who are accused of killing innocent civilians. The team has already declared victory.
In 2020, the ICRC visited some 72,000 people deprived of their liberty in more than 50 places of detention across Ethiopia, providing basic material assistance, facilitating access to water and sanitation and facilitating contacts between detainees and their families. The ICRC has also provided material to contain the spread of COVID-19 in prisons.
The ICRC works around the world to ensure humane conditions of detention through regular visits, meetings with detainees to monitor their conditions and treatment and to make improvements. The ICRC’s findings are discussed confidentially with the entities concerned.
The ICRC has been in Ethiopia since 1977. In addition to our work in places of detention, we support people with physical disabilities and provide protection and assistance to communities. We are working closely with the Ethiopian Red Cross to reconnect families separated by armed conflict and other situations of violence.