KAMPALA, UGANDA -- Ethiopia's government on Thursday faced mounting pressure to withdraw troops from the northern region of Tigray amid growing reports of war crimes in an embattled area that now faces a humanitarian crisis.

Criticism of the conduct of government troops and their allies from neighbouring Eritrea grew after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken asserted Wednesday that "ethnic cleansing" has happened in parts of Tigray.

"The challenge in Ethiopia is very significant, and it's one that we are very focused on, particularly the situation in Tigray, where we are seeing very credible reports of human rights abuses and atrocities that are ongoing," Blinken told the foreign affairs committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Although Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed concerns about the actions of the fugitive leaders of Tigray, Blinken said, "the situation in Tigray today is unacceptable and has to change, and that means a few things. It means making sure that we are getting into the region, into Tigray. Aid workers and others ... to make sure that the people are cared for, provided for and protected."

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