Ethiopian officials blocked United Nations access to protest areas

Vastavam web: Ethiopian officials have blocked United Nations access to areas that experienced deadly protests during one of the country’s most violent periods in recent memory, the UN human rights chief said today.Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein spoke during a three-day visit to the East African nation at the government’s invitation.The government has said at least 669 people were killed and largely blames the political opposition for the unrest.Opposition figures and human rights groups say security forces killed protesters, while the government has called security forces’ response “proportionate.” Zeid expressed alarm at the “extremely large number” of arrests and said some charges against those detained “may be misplaced.”

He asked that UN staffers be allowed to visit the areas of unrest. “We may then perhaps provide a list to the government and ask for specific releases” of people detained, Zeid said. “This requires more attention.” Earlier today, Zeid addressed the crisis in neighboring South Sudan, saying up to 50,000 civilians in the country’s Upper Nile region are at imminent risk of human rights violations as government troops close in.Many civilians in Aburoc town, some of whom recently fled a military attack on nearby Kodok town, are ethnic Shilluk and have faced a sharp rise in government attacks as South Sudan’s civil war continues.