Ethiopia: Refugees from Eritrea in distress

Better protection for refugees from Eritrea in Ethiopia (Press Release)

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) demands better protection for refugees from Eritrea who are currently living in Ethiopia. Due to the armed conflict in Tigray, the approximately 100,000 refugees are in a dramatic situation, the human rights organization stated. "Not only is their humanitarian situation dire, with a lack of supplies everywhere. Their security situation is even worse, as many refugees fear that they will be abducted or deported back to Eritrea," emphasized Ulrich Delius, the STP's Director, in Göttingen on Saturday. He added that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) should take over the administration and supply of the three large camps in Tigray as soon as possible – in order to keep the refugees safe. The UNHCR has expressed deep concern about the situation of refugees from Eritrea as well. 

Previously, refugees had reported that around 6,500 camp inmates have been deported to Eritrea. According to the STP, the eyewitness reports seem to be credible, but they cannot be independently verified due to the conflict in Tigray and the limited access to the region. "However, we must take the reports seriously, because Eritrea provided massive military support to Ethiopia in the armed operation in Tigray and will expect something in return," Delius explained. Efforts to deport the refugees or to dismante their camps could be Ethiopia's response to the new brotherhood of arms with Eritrea. Therefore, the Eritrean refugees now have to be protected especially. Due to their arduous escape from the crimes against humanity in Eritrea, they are now facing traumatization once again.

For example, hundreds of refugees who escaped from the chaos in southern Ethiopia were forcibly transported back to Tigray in buses. The UNHCR condemned Ethiopia's inhumane actions. "In Addis Ababa, members of the Eritrean opposition are living in fear of being arrested solely because of their ethnic origin – and they are facing criminal trials under unfair conditions and deportation to certain death in Eritrea," Delius warned, adding that the international community should be much more consistent in its efforts to protect Eritrean refugees. "They must not become a pawn in the new power struggle in the Horn of Africa," Delius stated.