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Ethiopia announces that it is closing Eritrean refugee camps in Tigray

Shimelba and Hitsats Eritrean refugee camps in Tigray region will be closed says gov’t refugee body in Ethiopia 

February 9, 2021 

Ethiopia’s Agency for Refugee & Returnee Affairs ( ARRA) on Tuesday disclosed that it is closing two Eritrean refugee camps in Tigray region of Ethiopia. 

Tesfahun Gobezay, Director of the Agency, said that the Ethiopian government has already passed a decision to close Shimelba and Hitsats refugee camps. 

“They should not have been opened in the first place,” he said, on grounds of environmental adversity and distance from the border. 

What will happen to refugees in those camps? They will be either transferred to other refugee camps or be given the opportunity for local integration, according to a remark from the director, as reported by Voice of America Amharic Service. 

Information from the agency indicates that there are over 200,000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia. Some live in refugee camps in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Others live in camps in the Afar region and still others in other parts of Ethiopia. 

The security of refugees in the camps to be closed was impacted during the law enforcement operation following TPLF  attack on Ethiopian Defense Forces 

Ethiopian government admitted that there had been loss of lives and property damages for which it blames TPLF Forces. The number of refugees killed during the operation is yet to be specified, but the government alleges that TPLF militia purposely attacked Shimelba and Hitsats refugee camps which government links to the propaganda that Eritrean troops were involved in the law enforcement operation. 

It is unclear as to when exactly the Ethiopian government is closing the camps. 

According to information from the agency, more than 92,000 Eritrean refugees live in the camps in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. 

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