Young people in Ethiopia’s war-shattered Tigray region are being forced to join the army’s fight against the central government by threatening and jailing relatives.
Kindeya Gebrehiwot, from the Tigray external relations office confirmed that some low ranking government officials had detained family members to force their relatives to enlist.
He however said such incidents were rare and the relatives had been released and the officials punished.
“The allegations of forced recruitment are not accurate,” Kindeya said. “Nevertheless, there were some irregularities in approaches at lower level of the government. These irregularities are rare and sporadic, not systemic.”
Ethiopian government spokesman Legesse Tulu said government officials had received multiple reports of forced recruitment.
Since the war in northern Ethiopia began in November 2020, thousands of civilians have been killed, millions forced to flee triggering famine and devastating infrastructure.
In justification, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) said it is defending the region’s 6 million people against subjugation by federal government.