Ethiopia: Thousands of Eritrean refugees fled following deadly attack on camp

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Thousands of Eritrean refugees harbouring at a camp in the Ethiopian Afar region have fled following a deadly attack on the facility earlier this month, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said on February 18 Friday.

As per the UN spokesperson, some unknown or unidentified attackers targetted Barahle camp on February 3 after fighting destroyed the area, according to severe accounts provided by refugees.

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People who walked the long distance to the regional capital ‘Semera’ stated to UNHCR staff that one army person entered the campsite on February 3, stole their belongings and occupied their homes told ‘Boris Cheshirkov, who spoke on behalf of UNHCR.

According to the affidavits, five people were lost their lives, and family members lost one another in the confusion of running in the camp.

This campsite attack is just the example of Eritrean nationals living in Ethiopia coming under fire since the conflict erupted and spread from the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray in November 2020.

A joint investigation investigated by the UN Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in November 2021 highlighted how Tigrayan and Ethiopian national fighters had put the security and lives of thousands at risk in Shimelba camp between November 2020 and January 2021.

According to Mr Cheshirkov, during the attack in Afar, over 4,000 refugees reached Semera, where UNHCR joined with the Ethiopian Refugees and Returnees Service and some other partners sheltering immediate support, relief items, food as well as clean water.

Another 10,000 refugees are also reported to be living in Afdera town, some 225 kilometres from Semera, added the UN official. “Others are also believed to have fled towards the towns of Altefa and Dabure, which is further inland.”

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In January 2022, UNHCR encouraged the global community to make more efforts in order to end the fight which is going on in Northern Ethiopia after finally reaching Eritrean refugees in the Tigray region “they were in trauma and were struggling to get enough to eat.”

That alert came after airstrikes in and near the camps of Mai Aini and Adi Harush, home to more than 25,000 refugees.

“With yet another refugee camp severely impacted, UNHCR remains extremely worried about the safety and wellbeing of thousands of Eritrean refugees caught up in the conflict,” Mr Cheshirkov warned. “Hostilities must cease, and humanitarian access must be provided so that we can be there and help the people who have urgent needs.”

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