Calls Increase for International Assistance for Eritrean Refugees in the Tigray Region

A building in an IDP camp in Tigray. Josh Brown – CSW

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) www.csw.org  has joined eight other organisations and individuals in writing to various officials of United Nations (UN) and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights urging them for urgent assistance for Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, where a violent conflict has been taking place since 4 November.

The letter informs the addressees, among them the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, that “In the midst of this conflict, the situation of some 100,000 Eritrean refugees in Tigray, most of whom live in four UN-sponsored refugee camps and many of whom are unaccompanied minors, has deteriorated markedly.”

Last week, CSW raised concerns regarding the presence of thousands of Eritrean troops in Tigray, which posed a serious threat to the wellbeing of Eritrean refugees in the region. Attacks and raids on at least three of the four main refugee camps in the region have since been confirmed, including the bombing of Adi Harush camp.

The letter also states that “reports are emerging that a significant number refugees may have been seized at gunpoint from Hitsats, Shimelba and Shire town, and either forced onto the front lines of the fighting, or forcibly returned to Eritrea, where they will inevitably face indefinite detention, forced conscription, torture and other inhuman, cruel and degrading treatment, or death.”

Eritrean officials are deemed to have committed crimes against humanity since 1991. In light of these concerns, signatories to the letter, including the UK Crossbench peer Lord Alton of Liverpool, appeal to the addressees to “remind the Ethiopian authorities of their obligations under the African and UN Refugee Conventions”, and to urge the Ethiopian government “to prioritise the protection of this vulnerable community… to fully restore communications and other suspended services to Tigray, and to facilitate independent investigation and verification of the wellbeing of refugees and civilians by African Commission and UN special procedures.”

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SOURCE: Assist News Service