Refugees International Concerned by Reports of Forced Movement of Eritrean Refugees in Ethiopia

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An Eritrean refugee woman seats with a child at the door of a house at Mai Aini Refugee camp, in Ethiopia, on January 30, 2021. – Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia fear their suffering may not be over, as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed strains to end a brutal conflict in the northern region of Tigray that has rendered them uniquely vulnerable.
Nearly 100,000 refugees from Eritrea, an oppressive, authoritarian nation bordering Ethiopia to the north, were registered in four camps in Tigray when fighting erupted in November between Abiy’s government and the regional ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP) (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images)

“Refugees International is deeply concerned about media reports that the Ethiopian government has rounded up more than 100 Eritrean refugees in and around Addis Ababa and forcibly moved them to the refugee camps near the unstable Amhara-Tigray border.

The area is particularly dangerous for Eritrean refugees who have been displaced multiple times and have faced attacks, kidnapping, discrimination, and other rights violations since Ethiopia’s civil war in November 2020. As the conflict continues throughout the region, Eritreans have been targeted by aggressors on all sides, including Eritrean troops active inside Ethiopia, and occasionally combatants from the Tigray Defense Forces, Amharan militia, and others. Additionally, the UN Refugee Agency and other aid groups have regularly been denied access to these refugee-hosting areas. The move violates Ethiopia’s domestic and international obligations to protect refugees.

This is not the first time the Ethiopian authorities have targeted the Eritrean refugees for forced return. In December 2020, the government forced Eritrean refugees in Addis Ababa onto buses and drove them to the Tigray region’s Adi Harush and Mai Ani refugee camps. This abuse must end.

Refugees International calls on all actors to respect domestic and international law by not forcing refugees back to places where they might be in danger. Refugees should have access to their rights, including freedom of movement, and should be offered protection and assistance by the government of Ethiopia and the humanitarian community. Parties to the conflict should work toward peace and never target refugees and other civilians.”

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Refugees International’s VP for Strategic Outreach, Sarah Sheffer, at [email protected].

PHOTO: An Eritrean refugee woman sits with a child at Mai Aini Refugee camp in Ethiopia on January 30, 2021. (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images)

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