East Africa: UNHCR Insists On Access to Eritrean Refugees in Tigray As Concerns Grow

Eritrean refugee students sit outside Mai Tsebri secondary school in Tigray province, Ethiopia in November 2019.

The UN-run camps housing Eritrean refugees in the northern region of Tigray, Ethiopia have run out of food as of Monday, and the UN refugee agency is urgently calling for the federal authorities in Ethiopia to allow access to get food and supplies in.

"Concerns are growing by the hour," said UN refugee group in a statement.

The UN has been warning that food was running out and has been repeatedly appealing to the federal authorities in Addis Ababa to allow access.

"For almost two decades Ethiopia has been a hospitable country for Eritrean refugees but now we fear they are caught in the conflict," according to the statement.

The UN agency also voiced concerns regarding unconfirmed reports that refugees are being attacked, abducted, and forcibly recruited. It has been unable to verify this information due to the communication blackout the federal government has imposed on the region.

"UNHCR appeals to the government of Ethiopia to continue to fulfill its responsibility in hosting and protecting Eritrean refugees and allow humanitarians to access people who are now desperately in need," it added.

It has now been almost a month since the federal government launched an offensive after the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) allegedly attacked army bases in the area.

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