Calls to stop attacks on refugees in Tigray

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The US is concerned about reported attacks against Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, a State Department spokeswoman said calling for intimidation and attacks to stop.

“We are concerned about credible reports of attacks by military forces affiliated with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and Tigrayan militias against Eritrean refugees,” State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters.

In a fresh sign of the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia as violence spirals, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said it is concerned about 24 000 Eritrean refugees in two camps in Tigray cut off from aid and could run out of food and drinking water.  

Fighting between armed groups escalated in and around Mai Aini and Adi Harush camps and two refugees were killed this month, UNHCR said.

“We call on all armed actors in Tigray to stop attacks and intimidation against Eritrean forces and all refugees, asylum seekers and people displaced by ongoing violence, as well as against aid workers responding to the humanitarian disaster,” Porter said.

Fighting first broke out in Tigray in November when government accused the TPLF of attacking military bases across the region – an accusation the group denied.

Government declared victory three weeks later when it took regional capital Mekelle, but TPLF kept fighting and has retaken most of the province.

Ethiopian troops withdrew from large parts of Tigray in June when the TPLF retook Mekelle. The central government declared a unilateral ceasefire on what it said were humanitarian grounds.

Thousands of people died in the fighting, around two million were displaced and more than five million rely on emergency food aid.