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Ethiopia: Critical moment to strengthen fight against trafficking in the Tigray, Afar, and Amhara

03 October 2022

GENEVA (3 October 2022) – Women and girls in the Tigray, Afar and Amhar are increasingly vulnerable to abduction and trafficking for sexual exploitation as they flee the conflict in Northern Ethiopia, UN experts* warned today.

The protracted armed conflict in the Tigray, Afar and Amhara regions of Ethiopia have heightened risks of trafficking for sexual exploitation as a form of sexual violence in conflict, the experts said.

“We are alarmed by reports of refugee and internally displaced women and girls in the Tigray, Afar, and Amhara regions being abducted while attempting to move to safer places,” they said. “We are concerned at the risks of trafficking, in particular for purposes of sexual exploitation, including sexual slavery.”

The UN experts raised serious concerns about Eritrean refugee women and children being at particular risk of trafficking for sexual exploitation, following abductions and displacement. “Urgent action is needed to prevent trafficking, especially for purposes of sexual exploitation, and to ensure assistance and protection of all victims, without discrimination on grounds of race or ethnicity, nationality, disability, age or gender,” the experts said.

They warned that children were at particular risk of trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation especially in the Tigray region, where hundreds of children have been separated from their families. “The continuing lack of humanitarian access to the region is a major concern,” the experts said, urging immediate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent all forms of trafficking of children and to ensure protection for all children.

Sufficient measures were not being taken to identify victims of trafficking, ensure protection and assistance and support their recovery in ways that fully takes account of the extreme trauma suffered, they said. “The failure to provide accountability for these serious human rights violations and grave crimes creates a climate of impunity, allows trafficking in persons to persist and perpetrators to go free,” the UN experts said.

They urged all relevant stakeholders to ensure that victims of trafficking can adequately access medical assistance, including sexual and reproductive health care services and psychological support.

The experts have been engaging with the Governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea.


*The experts: Siobhán Mullally, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; Mohamed Abdelsalam Babiker, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea; Mama Fatima Singhateh, Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, child pornography and other child sexual abuse material; Gerard Quinn, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities; Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences,Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures' experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests, please contact Clara Pascual de Vargas ([email protected])

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Renato Rosario De Souza ([email protected]) or Dharisha Marylise Bastians Indraguptha ([email protected])

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