UN says Ethiopian conflict's impact on women 'unimaginable'

Tigray women

Women displaced by fighting in northern Ethiopia, sit in a classroom at a school where they are temporary sheltered, in the city of Dessie, Ethiopia, on August 24, 2021.

Photo credit: Eduardo Soteras | AFP

 United Nations, United States

 Fresh off a visit to conflict-torn regions of Ethiopia, UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed described Friday the "unimaginable" horrors women have faced, and called for justice and accountability.

In a press conference recapping her trip to Ethiopia's Tigray, Amhara, Afar and Somali regions, the UN number two described an instance when a woman had been raped in front of her young child, and then was spurned by her husband, family and society.

"Ethiopian women, writ large, were affected in a way that is unimaginable," said Mohammed.

The conflict between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan rebels started in November 2020 and has left thousands dead, while according to the UN hundreds of thousands have been pushed into famine.

"In your worst nightmares, you cannot imagine what has happened to the women in Ethiopia," Mohammed said, adding that she also saw widespread suffering due to famine.

"There is everyone to blame" for these war-fueled horrors and in the 21st century "it's unacceptable that one human being would do that to another," she argued.

"Justice and accountability have to be had," said the former Nigerian minister, without specifying what formal actions could be taken.

"When men go to war, they come back and they're heroes, doesn't matter any injury that they have, right?" asked Mohammed. "But women have been injured -- injured in a way that is unimaginable, and yet they're not coming back heroes. They're just outcast. That has to stop."