Slide Amnesty International UK / Media Awards AWARD CATEGORIES

Ethiopia may be on the edge of genocide

Will Brown – The Telegraph & The Sunday Telegraph


Will Brown, The Telegraph’s Africa Correspondent, was one of the first international journalists to reach the Ethiopian-Sudanese border after Ethiopia’s prime minister launched a devastating military campaign in the Tigray region.

The main report we are submitting is Will’s first from the border region, filed on a satellite phone from a makeshift camp for thousands of newly arrived refugees.

A mass communications blackout meant that precious few details were emerging from Tigray. But Will painstakingly told refugees’ stories, exposing the horrendous rights abuses as one of Africa’s most powerful armies was unleashed on its own people.

In the second submission, Will reconstructed events in the Tigrayan town of Humera, conveying the utter horror of the conflict. It was one of the first articles to point towards major Eritrean involvement. The Telegraph, 23/11/20.

(Joost Bastmeijer was Will’s photographer while he was in Sudan)

Thirdly, Will worked with Zecharias Zelalem on an investigation showing that Saudi Arabia is keeping thousands of African migrants in horrifying Covid detention centres. Subsequent reporting found tens of thousands were in the centres and that Ethiopia had tried to silence migrants to avoid a diplomatic fallout. (30/8/20).

Will’s final piece is an investigation into a series of extrajudicial killings in Western Niger found that more than 150 men had disappeared and most probably been killed by Nigerien security forces. An Amnesty International report later confirmed the reporting. (01/06/20).


Experts and diplomats said Will’s reporting had a major impact on how the Tigray conflict was seen and exposed some of the heinous violence going on behind the communications blackout.

Will briefed the US State Department on his reporting, and his accounts were passed to the US Assistant Secretary for Africa. Soon after the briefing, the US Secretary of State urged Ethiopia’s PM to end the war.

UK Diplomats also told Will The Telegraph’s reporting on Tigray was one of the driving forces behind the alarm on both sides of the UK parliament and a statement on the conflict from the Foreign Minister.

Will and Zecharias’ reporting on Saudi Arabia was republished or referenced in more than 20 major outlets, including the New York Times, the BBC and Al Jazeera.

After their reporting, a spokesman for the Secretary-General of the United Nations said they had launched an investigation and Ethiopia started repatriating hundreds of women and children from Saudi Arabia.

When Amnesty International confirmed the horrors of the Saudi centres, members of the EU Parliament passed a resolution strongly condemning Saudi Arabia for the abuses, citing both the Telegraph’s and Amnesty’s reporting.

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