HAMDAYET, Sudan (Reuters) – The young coffee seller said she was split from family and friends by an Ethiopian soldier at the Tekeze river, taken down a path, and given a harrowing choice.
“He said: ‘Choose, either I kill you or rape you’,” the 25-year-old told Reuters at the Hamdayet refugee camp in Sudan where she had fled from conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
The doctor who treated her when she arrived at the camp in December, Tewadrous Tefera Limeuh, confirmed to Reuters that he provided pills to stop pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases, and guided her to a psychotherapist.
“The soldier … forced a gun on her and raped her,” Limeuh, who was volunteering with the Sudanese Red Crescent, said the woman told him. “She asked him if he had a condom and he said ‘why would I need a condom?’”
Five aid workers for international and Ethiopian aid groups said they had received multiple similar reports of abuse in Tigray. The United Nations appealed this week for an end to sexual assaults in the region.
Among a “high number” of allegations, particularly disturbing reports have emerged of people being forced to rape relatives or have sex in exchange for basic supplies, the U.N. Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict said in a statement on Thursday.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the military did not immediately respond to questions from Reuters about the reports of rape. Ethiopian authorities have previously denied rights abuses, pointing the finger instead at the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the region’s former ruling party whose forces they accuse of insurrection.
“I call on all parties involved in the hostilities in the Tigray region to commit to a zero-tolerance policy for crimes of sexual violence,” U.N. special representative Pramila Patten said in the statement. Read More