The Government agency that deals with refugees in Ethiopia Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) on Thursday issued the following statement on the situation of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia expressing its concern about the safety of the refugees.
In a recent statement, we called on the international community to comprehend the situation of Eritrean refugees in Mai-Aini and Adi-Harush camps and support way-outs to a lasting solution. In an effort to avert adversities, we are working hard to accelerate the establishment of the new camp at North Gondar Zone of Dabat Woreda, where we have received 91 hectares of land for the camp establishment and
organizing facilities and services to refugees that are escaping the conflict zone,” it said.
“To that effect, we have got permission and full support from the local authorities to use schools as temporary shelters. Core Relief Items have been transported to the area and also few partners are also responding. Thus, we began receiving refugees, hosting them in schools and wet-feeding.
However, the situation is deteriorating and continues to be a matter of grave concern. Following the TPLF’s presence in the refugee-hosting areas, so far, at least six refugees have been reported to have been killed by the militants.
In violation of the international humanitarian law, the rebels deployed heavy artilleries in the refugee camps, and there appears continuous militant activity and sporadic shootings. Besides, ambulances and infrastructures, including health centers that were deployed and established for humanitarian service are confiscated and being used for military services. Consequently, at least two refugees are reported dead due to lack of health services, and mothers are delivering in dire conditions.
ARRA’s and other partners’ properties, including World Food Program warehouses, have been looted and
confiscated. Refugees are being forced to contribute in-kind and cash to the rebels. Adding to all these misfortunes, all efforts by the refugees to move out of the conflict zone has been prevented by the TPLF, and they are in a state of affairs, we believe tantamount to a hostage situation.
On the contrary, there are of 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 attacks by the same group back in November.
To date, international humanitarian organizations have not been able to access these refugee camps, and also 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 said.