Fighting traps Eritrean refugees in UNHCR refugee camp in Tigray


Yesterday (Thursday) we reported on the critical situation in the Mai Aini refugee camp run by the UNHCR for Eritrean refugees who fled to Tigray. It was home to over 21,000 refugees when the conflict erupted on 4 October [see UNHCR graphic below].

  • Mai Aini may be the camp that is currently greatest risk.  Example: Tigrayan forces aligned with the TPLF  are reported to have confiscated two private truckloads of produce that were destined for the camp at Mai Aini.  Example: A Tigrayan guard shot and killed a young Eritrean man in Mai Aini yesterday (circumstances are unknown).
  • Military activity is concentrated just outside of Mai Aini. Tigrayan soldiers are trying to reinforce their positions, while Federal forces are converging on them. This could lead to fierce fighting, endangering camp residents.

Today a series of  Tweets by Abraham Zere, executive director of PEN Eritrea have reinforced the perception that Mai Aini is in real danger of being caught up in the Tigray war.  Below is Abraham’s first Tweet – the rest have been transcribed.

As has been feared, there has been fire exchanges between #Tigray militia and #Ethiopia’s federal government soldiers around Mai Aini, last night (3rd of Dec.)

Although the exchanges de-escalated as the federal government soldiers withdrew to a place called Mai-Anbesa, the Eritrean refugees have been sandwiched. So far, a man around the age of 60 has been wounded from the shooting.

Fellow refugees took the wounded man to Mai-Tsebri by a chariot as there is no other means of transportation. Apart from first aid, he did not receive other treatments, despite carrying a bullet on his chest, according to the sources.

People are fleeing the camp without a destination. They are left either to wait and suffer in the camp or just leave out of desperation. Lawlessness is unleashing; there has been armed looting to take small possessions such as mobile phone as there is nothing else worth.

There is acute shortage of food, water, basic medical supplies. There is greater sense of insecurity, according to the sources.


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