The U.S. Department of State has said it was worried about "continuing reports of ethnically motivated atrocities" in Ethiopia's Western Tigray zone.

Spokesperson Ned Price said the attacks on ethnic Tigrayans had reportedly been carried out by the security forces of the neighboring Amhara region. In his April 8 statement, Price referred to a report by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. "In particular, we are deeply troubled by the report's finding that these acts amount to ethnic cleansing," Price said.

Detention 'in life-threatening conditions'

"We note with the utmost alarm that thousands of Ethiopians of Tigrayan ethnicity reportedly continue to be detained arbitrarily in life-threatening conditions," he said. The State Department called for detainees to be released and for detention centers to be open to international observers, Price said. He also urged "credible investigations" into the reported atrocities.

Price also called upon the Ethiopian government to work constructively with the U.N. Commission of Experts on Human Rights in Ethiopia. Price's entire statement can be viewed at the State Department website.

'We Will Erase You from This Land'

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch released their joint report ‘We Will Erase You From This Land’: Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing in Ethiopia’s Western Tigray Zone on April 6.

The report can be viewed on the websites of both organizations.

The report said hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans had been uprooted since the outbreak of fighting between Tigray People's Liberation Front and forces supporting the national government, including forces from the neighboring Amhara region. Government forces from Amhara "have been responsible for extrajudicial executions, rape and other acts of sexual violence," the report said.

Tigrayans had seen their homes looted, their crops pillaged and their livelihoods destroyed, the report added. It said that Tigrayans were forbidden to speak their own language, Tigrinya. "Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch found that Amhara regional officials and regional special forces and militias, with federal forces' complicity, are responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Tigrayans from Western Tigray," the report stated.

The human rights organizations said research for the report had been carried out between December 2020 and March 2022. They said that 427 interviews had been conducted for the report.

Numerous "crimes against humanity as well as war crimes" had been committed by the Amhara security forces "with the acquiescence and possible participation of Ethiopian federal forces," the report said.

Bishop decries 'merciless man-made famine'

One day after the human rights organizations released their report, the Catholic News Service reported that Bishop Tesfaselassie Medhin of Adigrat, Ethiopia had called for speedy humanitarian aid to save Tigrayans from starvation.

The news service quoted the bishop as saying millions of Ethiopians were "at the verge of death from a merciless man-made famine in Tigray." Aid had been promised but was much too slow in arriving, the bishop added.

The previous month, the Conference of Catholic Bishops in Ethiopia had begun a humanitarian response to the plight of Tigray and neighboring areas, the news service said.