Tigray: Armed Conflict

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office written question – answered on 16th July 2021.

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Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Chair, Human Rights (Joint Committee), Chair, Human Rights (Joint Committee)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to help prevent rape being used as a weapon of war in Tigray, Ethiopia.

Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

We are appalled at the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence in Tigray that includes widespread [and systematic] rape. We have raised this issue in a variety of multilateral fora, including the UNSC and G7. I raised this matter when I met with the Ethiopian Minister for Peace on 15 July. who reported that her Government had zero tolerance of such crimes and had convicted 60 soldiers of rape I urged her to actively work with our teams to do more.

We have deployed an expert from the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative UK Team of Experts. They are currently conducting an initial scoping mission. Their recommendations from this scoping mission will inform further options - including a wider deployment - for supporting the Government of Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and other key stakeholders to safely collect and preserve evidence, and bring the perpetrators of sexual violence to justice. The UK fully supports the joint investigation involving the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights. We continue to explore options for addressing the immediate needs of survivors, preventing further sexual violence and delivering justice and accountability.

The UK has recently allocated a further £16.7m towards the crisis in Tigray. Part of this funding will be used to support survivors of sexual violence, through mobile health teams and by helping to re-start service delivery at health centres that were impacted by violence and looting.

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