Refugees, Returnees Service Says UNHCR, UNOCHA Statements Partial

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Addis Ababa January 25/2022/ENA/ The recent statements of UNHCR and UNOCHA about refugees in Mai Aini and Adi Harush in Tigray region is partial, according to Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS).

To comprehend the state of affairs better, it is important to understand the context in which the refugees have been through and how they reached this stage, a press release of the service stated.

Assessing the situation on the ground and future prospects, it further stated, “it is worth noting that we have made every effort to fundamentally address the difficulties Eritrean refugees have been facing in the context of the Tigray conflict.”

During the time of the Law Enforcement Operation by the federal government, land was provided for a new refugee site in North Gondar, with an understanding that the problem could be permanently solved by relocating the refugees to a place where they could receive adequate protection and support.

Following the arrangements made to temporarily relocate the refugees the organization  succeeded in moving a few hundred to the new site, it added.

Refugees and Returnees Service pointed out that despite repeated efforts and calls between June to August 2021 on its side to take advantage of the government’s unilateral ceasefire to relocate the refugees, all attempts failed to come to fruition due to the rejection of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

“We tried to bring the issue to the attention of the international community through a statement issued on 22 July 2021, though not fetched the response needed to end the sufferings of the refugees.”

On the contrary, TPLF responded by ravaging the Mai Aini and Adi Harush refugee camps by deploying heavy artilleries, shooting and abducting refugees as well as looting their properties, including a World Food Program (WFP) warehouse and refugee health centers.

Above all, it blocked free movement which hindered the relocation of refugees in the aforementioned camps.

Beginning from early August 2021, refugees were short of food and medicine supplies, but no one was there to listen to our repeated calls, the organization complained.

“We appreciate the UNHCR for recognizing, in its recent statement, efforts made to relocate the refugees to the new site provided by the Government of Ethiopia in Dabat in the neighboring Amhara Region. (However) it did not indicate that the dire suffering of the refugees resulted from the restriction of freedom of movement by the rebels.”

By the same token, UNOCHA’s recent statement on the issue of access to Tigray Region for humanitarian assistance undermines efforts by the federal government to minimize humanitarian crisis by refraining from entering Tigray region, even after forcing the invading rebels to flee from Amhara and Afar regions.

Thus, it shall be noted that TPLF is responsible for all the delays and obstacles as they blocked all avenues of humanitarian assistance to Tigray, the service underscored.

It concluded, “we again call on the international community to press for the relocation of Eritrean Refugees in Tigray Region to a place where they can receive the required humanitarian assistance and protection and end their suffering and find a lasting solution. We also strongly reiterate the international community to condemn TPLF for waging war in areas where humanitarian assistance is being transported.”

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