Ethiopia: Humanitarian Access Urgently Needed to Reach Civilians, Eritrean Refugees in Tigray

Ethiopian refugees fleeing clashes in the country's northern Tigray region cross the border into Hamdayet, Sudan.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is appealing to the federal authorities in Ethiopia for urgent access in order to reach Eritrean refugees in the Tigray region who are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and services.

Concerns are growing by the hour.

The camps will have now run out of food supplies - making hunger and malnutrition a real danger, a warning we have been issuing since the conflict began nearly a month ago. We are also alarmed at unconfirmed reports of attacks, abductions and forced recruitment at the refugee camps.

UNHCR strongly reiterates its call for safety and security of refugees. With the current difficulties in communication and security hampering access it is not possible to verify current conditions in the camps.

No civilian should become a target, and all possible measures must be taken by all parties to ensure that – be they refugees, the internally displaced, host communities or humanitarian workers – they are all kept out of harm's way.

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

In Sudan, Ethiopian refugees continue to arrive in the hundreds. Nearly 46,000 have now arrived since the start of November. More than 2500 were registered since Friday alone.

We reiterate the joint UN call that it is urgent for all parties enable the free and safe movement of affected people in search of safety and assistance, including across international and within national borders. We call for the right to seek asylum to be fully respected.

Over the weekend, UNHCR with its partners launched a humanitarian response plan to assist the growing number of refugees in eastern Sudan. The plan brings together 30 humanitarian partners working together with the government to provide urgent life-saving assistance including shelter, water and food at a cost of US$147 million which will meet the needs of up to 100,000 refugees for the next six months.

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