Humanitarian CrisesNews

UNHCR Urges Ceasefire In Tigray, As Refugees Trapped In Two Camps

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency has implored all armed groups to cease all conflict attacks on refugees and insists all parties to the conflict to give immediate humanitarian access in Tigray, Ethiopia.

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR has expressed concerns over the situation of refugees in two refugee camps in Ethiopia’s region, calling on parties to the violent conflict in the region to create access for humanitarian services.

Babar Baloch, UNHCR spokesperson, at a press briefing on Tuesday, July 27, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva stated that the fate of thousands of Eritrean refugees is unpleasant as millions are currently trapped in two refugee camps in Ethiopia’s Tigray region as fighting between armed groups escalates in and around the camps.

An estimated 24,000 Eritrean refugees are presently facing threats, harassment, interdiction, and constant pain with no humanitarian assistance in Mai Aini and Adi Harush camps in Tigray’s Mai Tsebri area.

“We have received disturbing and credible reports in recent days from Mai Aini camp that at least one refugee was killed by armed elements operating inside the camp. This latest death is in addition to the killing of another refugee on Wednesday, July 14, 2021,” Baloch disclosed.

UNHCR has implored all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international law, including respecting the civilians in refugee camps, and the rights of refugees and all civilians to be protected from attacks.

“Our staff have lost all access to the refugee camps for the last two weeks. Trapped refugees need urgent life-saving assistance. Clean drinking water is running out, no healthcare services are available and hunger is a real danger. The last food distribution to both camps was done in late June, providing rations for one month,” Baloch raised the alarm.

Refugee waits for humanitarian aid distribution at Mai Aini Camp: Photo Credit: UNHCR

Recent armed clashes have also displaced thousands of people in the Afar region that neighbours Tigray to the east and where an additional 55,000 Eritrean refugees are hosted. There are reports of armed confrontations close to the locations where they live.

Meanwhile, the main humanitarian supply road between Semera in Afar and Mekelle in Tigray has been completely blocked since July 18. 

UNHCR supplies, like those of other agencies, are stranded in Semera and the agency is calling on all parties to the conflict to give immediate humanitarian access and safety for aid workers attempting to provide life-saving assistance.

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