Fri. Jan 22nd, 2021

By CARA ANNA, The Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – Thousands fled refugee camps in the Tigray region of Ethiopia as war ensued, food ran out and allies were attacked. But Ethiopia’s government said it was sending “wrong” refugees back to their camps near Eritrea on Friday, the country they had originally fled.

Claiming that the fighting in Tigray was over, Ethiopia’s government said its military offensive against the “fugitive regional government” was “not a direct threat” to 96,000 refugees – even international aid groups said their Four workers were killed in at least one refugee camp there.

Following the Ethiopia announcement, the UN refugee chief said that if confirmed that Eritrean refugees were targeted, the confirmation would be “a major violation of international norms.” Ethiopia has refused to involve Eritrean troops in the conflict, but Tigre residents who fled to Sudan. It is claimed that as soon as the conflict started, shelling started from the direction of Eritrea.

Aid groups say thousands of Eritrean refugees have fled to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and Mekele, the capital of Tigray. Ethiopia’s government said that their “uncontrolled movement” makes it difficult to ensure their safety and provide them with assistance.

Their camps are now stable and under Ethiopia’s “full control”, the statement said, “transportation of food to the camp is underway.”

But communication and transport links to the Tigray region are so challenging that the International Rescue Committee said on Friday that it was still trying to confirm details surrounding the killing of an employee at the Hitats refugee camp in Shire City, the refugee’s The basis of human actions. Camps.

Separately, the Danish Refugee Council said that three workers who worked as guards at a project site were killed last month.

“Sadly, due to lack of communication and ongoing insecurity in the area, it is not possible to reach their families yet,” he said. It was not clear where they were killed, but the aid group also supports Eritrean refugees.

The UN refugee agency told reporters on Friday that refugee camps had no access to services and supplies for more than a month.

The Commissioner of the European Union, Crisis Management, Janez Lenrich, condemned the killings, saying, “Now, more than ever, it is a matter of urgency to stop all hostilities.”

Disappointment remains between the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations as the Tigre region remains largely closed from the outside world for five weeks after the fighting following a months-long power struggle between the government of Ethiopia and Tigre.

The Ethiopian government has clarified that it wants to manage the process of providing aid to Tigray, and has declined “intervention” as the fight is reported to continue despite the declaration of victory. On Friday, Ethiopia said it has begun providing assistance to areas of Tigray under its control, including the Shire and Tigray capital, a city of half a million people.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abi Ahmad’s office said, “The suggestion that humanitarian aid is disrupted due to active military fighting in many cities and surrounding areas within the tiger area is untrue and undermines the important work done by the National Defense Forces Does “sporadic firepower should not be mistaken as” active conflict. “

The governments of Ethiopia and Tigray each consider illegitimate, the result of months of growing friction since Abi took office in 2018, sidelining the one-time major Tigre People’s Liberation Front. Thousands of people are believed to have been killed in the fighting, which began on 4 November and threatened to destabilize the Horn of Africa. Some 6 million people live in Tigray, and about 1 million are now thought to be displaced.

This week the UN human rights chief said its impact on civilians was “horrific”.

“We have hundreds of allies on the ground and urgently call on all sides to fight to save all civilians in Tigre,” UN Humanitarian Spokesperson Savian Abru said after the announcement of the death of aid personnel.

Trucks loaded with supplies at the Tigre border waited weeks. Ethiopia’s government says it is responsible for ensuring the security of humanitarian efforts – although conflict and related ethnic tensions have made many ethnic Tigresses wary of government forces.

The United Nations has stressed the need for neutral, unchanged access to the region.

The United Nations Humanitarian Office tweeted, “Food rationing for displaced people in Tigray has gone out.” “We reiterate our immediate call for unconditional and safe humanitarian access to the affected areas.”

This week, Ethiopia’s government said its forces shot and detained UN staff to conduct its first security assessment in Tigray, an important step in delivering aid. Ethiopia said that the staff had broken through checkpoints in an attempt to get to places where they were not allowed.

Meanwhile, around 50,000 Ethiopians have fled to Sudan as refugees and now live under stressful conditions in a remote region with few resources.

Babar Baloch, a spokesman for the UN refugee, said, “Recently groups coming from areas inside Tigray have been weak and tired, with some spending two weeks making runs inside Ethiopia as they made their way to the border have taken.” He said, “They have told us about being stopped by armed groups and looting their property.” Many people have spent time hiding in fields and bushes.

Without access in Ethiopia, he said, “We are unable to verify these disturbing reports.”

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