The Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) of Ethiopia expressed its concerns on the situation of Eritrean refugees in Tigray regional state describing it as “a grave concern.”
In a statement the Agency issued on Thursday, it said the situation of Eritrean refugees particularly in Mai-Tsebri refugee camp is deteriorating and continues to be a matter of grave concern.
“Following the TPLF’s control of the refugee-hosting areas, so far, at least six refugees have been reported to have been killed by the militants,” the statement said adding “In violation of international humanitarian law, the rebels deployed heavy artilleries in the refugee camps, and there appears continuous militant activity and sporadic shootings.”
In addition, the Agency also reminded that it had previously called on the international community to comprehend the situation of Eritrean refugees in Mai-Aini and Adi-Harush camps and support lasting solutions.
In an effort to avert adversities, the Agency said it is working hard to accelerate the establishment of a new camp at North Gondar Zone of Dabat Woreda, where it has received 91 hectares of land to establish a camp and organize facilities and services to refugees that are escaping the conflict zones.
The agency has received permission and full support from local authorities to use schools as temporary shelters, and it had transported equipment that would help establish the camp.
Ambulances and infrastructure, including health centers that were deployed and established for humanitarian service, are confiscated and being used for military services, the statement claimed, adding that at least two refugees are reported dead due to lack of health services, and mothers are delivering in dire conditions.
Indicating that its properties have been looted and damaged along with the properities of other organizations, ARRA said “All efforts by the refugees to move out of the conflict zone have been prevented by the TPLF.”
On the contrary, there are reports of forceful transportation of refugees in masses to unknown locations and exertions to relocate some of them to Hitsats and Shimelba, the refugee camps that had been closed following reported attacks by the TPLF forces back in November.
To date, international humanitarian organizations have not been able to access these refugee camps and could not deliver services to the refugees.
“The Ethiopian government reaffirms its commitment to the safety of refugees and calls on the international community to unequivocally condemn such atrocities. Besides, we urge the world to support our endeavors to save the refugees from the imminent danger they are facing and to avert the hostage situation, and assist our efforts in investigating crimes committed against refugees,” ARRA added.