New York: The United Nations on Thursday said that more than 500 rape cases have been reported to five clinics in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. The UN also warned that the actual numbers might be far higher. Addressing UN member states in New York, Wafaa Said, deputy UN aid coordinator in Ethiopia, said women say they have been raped by armed actors, they also told stories of gang rape, rape in front of family members and men being forced to rape their own family members under the threat of violence.Also Read - Rich Nations Must Deliver Climate Finance Before COP26, Says UN Secretary-General

Giving further details, she said that at least 516 rape cases had been reported by five medical facilities in Mekelle, Adigrat, Wukro, Shire and Axum. She also added that as most health facilities are not functioning and the stigma associated with rape, it is projected that actual numbers are much higher. Also Read - Minor Girl Gang-raped in Maharashtra’s Thane, 26 Arrested, Police Form SIT to Probe Matter

On the other hand, Ethiopia’s UN ambassador Taye Atskeselassie Amde, told news agency Reuters that his government took the allegations of sexual violence very seriously and had deployed a fact-finding mission. Also Read - Wash Clothes Of 2000 Women in 6 Months: Bihar Court Grants Bail to Rape Accused on Unique Condition

Saying that Ethiopia has zero-tolerance policy for sexual crimes, he said anyone found responsible for the despicable acts will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

Moreover, eye-witnesses in Tigray region have said that soldiers from neighbouring Eritrea routinely killed civilians, gang-raped and tortured women and looted their households and crops during the conflict.

Apart from this, the violence in Tigray has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes in the mountainous region of about 5 million.