SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: September 13, 2022

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Mekelle University

Region & Country:Eastern Africa | Ethiopia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On September 13, 2022, Ethiopian military forces conducted drone strikes on Mekelle University. One person was reportedly injured and university facilities were damaged during the attack.

The attack occurred as fighting resumed in a two-year-old conflict between Ethiopian forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which governs the Tigray region. Mekelle University, which sits in the Tigray region, has reportedly suffered three such attacks since the start of the Tigrayan conflict in 2020. Photos shared by the university on Facebook show damaged cars and shattered windows at the site of the strike.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about military forces targeting university facilities in armed conflict. Parties to a conflict may only attack legitimate military targets; where a party suspects that a civilian facility — such as a university building — is being used for military purposes, that party has a duty to take every action practicable to verify that this suspicion is correct before initiating an attack. In the event of such an attack, parties must take all practicable precautions to avoid or minimize damage to civilian facilities. Further, parties must refrain from launching attacks which may be expected to cause disproportionate damage to civilian facilities.

*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)