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Ethiopian security forces patrol the street after the Ethiopian army took control of Hayktown of Amhara city from the rebel Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) in Ethiopia on December 16. Photo: Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The UN Human Rights Council on Friday voted to create an independent commission to investigate human rights violations in Ethiopia.

Why it matters: The move comes amid a deteriorating security situation in Ethiopia, where thousands have been killed and millions of others have fled due to a yearlong conflict between the federal government and rebel forces, particularly in the Tigray region, Reuters reports.

Driving the news: The resolution, held at the request of the European Union, passed despite objections from Ethiopia, which called the investigation politically motivated and insisted on its "unreserved commitment" to human rights, according to the UN.

  • Delegates at the special session were told that nine in 10 people in the northern region of Tigray require humanitarian assistance.

State of play: Likely more than 400,000 people in Tigray live in famine-like conditions, according to Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif, who added that limited aid has been permitted into the region since June.

  • The commissioner also said that at least two million people across Tigray, Amhara and Afar have been displaced due to conflict and "many of them are not receiving the assistance they need to stay alive," per the UN.
  • There are also increasing concerns over mass arrests and detainment of ethnic Tigrayans, journalists and UN staff, potentially triggered by a nationwide state of emergency announced on Nov. 2.
  • "While some of those arrested over the past six weeks have been released, we estimate that between 5,000 and 7,000 remain detained, including nine UN staff members," the deputy UN rights chief said.

What they're saying: "The global paralysis on Ethiopia's armed conflict has emboldened human rights abusers to act with impunity and left communities at risk of feeling abandoned," Human Rights Watch's Laetitia Bader said in a report published jointly this week by HRW and Amnesty International. 

State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Friday said the U.S. "is gravely concerned by unconfirmed new reports alleging mass detentions, killings, and forced expulsions of ethnic Tigrayans in western Tigray by Amhara security forces."

  • "We urge the Ethiopian authorities to investigate these reports to determine their veracity and to commit to inclusive, transparent processes to hold responsible those accountable," Price said.
  • "We call on all armed actors in Ethiopia to renounce and end violence against civilians."  

Go deeper: There will be no airlift: U.S. urges Americans to leave Ethiopia now

Go deeper

Nov 16, 2021 - World

Olympics sponsors caught between U.S. and China

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Companies that do business in China — especially Olympics sponsors — are concerned Beijing will use the 2022 Winter Games as a loyalty test.

Why it matters: China's leaders have become adept at silencing criticism from U.S. companies that might otherwise condemn the country's human rights record — and the Chinese government has been able to host prestigious global events like the Olympics while committing rights violations with impunity.

Scoop: Stephanie Ruhle to replace Brian Williams on MSNBC

Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

MSNBC will soon announce plans to move morning anchor Stephanie Ruhle to the 11 pm ET hour that Brian Williams turned into an elite destination, two sources familiar with the move tell Axios.

Details: The 9 am ET hour, currently hosted by Ruhle, will become part of MSNBC's flagship morning show, "Morning Joe," which currently runs from 6 am to 9 am ET.

Oath Keepers leader denied bail on Capitol riot sedition charge

Oath Keepers co-founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

A federal judge ordered Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes to remain jailed Wednesday until trial on charges stemming from the Capitol riot.

Why it matters: The judge said the most prominent far-right figure charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection had access to weapons and his alleged "continued advocacy for violence against the federal government" gave credence to prosecutors' view that, if released, Rhodes could endanger others.

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