As evidence of Eritrean involvement in Tigray war mounts Eritrea responds with denial and abuse

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Report: Images show latest ‘attack’ on Ethiopia refugee camp

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — New satellite images of a refugee camp in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region show more than 400 structures have been badly damaged in what a research group believes is the latest “intentional attack” by fighters.

The report by the U.K.-based DX Open Network nonprofit, shared with The Associated Press, says “it is likely that the fire events of 16 January are yet another episode in a series of military incursions on the camp as reported by (the United Nations refugee agency).”

The Shimelba camp is one of four that hosted 96,000 refugees from nearby Eritrea when fighting erupted in early November between Ethiopian forces and those of the defiant Tigray region. The fighting has swept through the camps and two of them, including Shimelba, remain inaccessible to aid workers. Many refugees have fled.

On Thursday, U.N. refugee chief Filippo Grandi cited recent satellite imagery of fires and other destruction at the two inaccessible camps as “concrete indications of major violations of international law.”

On Sunday the U.N. refugee agency urged that it be given access to the camps.

“Until November, 8,700 refugees were registered in Shimelba. We have no information on how many refugees were still in the camp last week,” U.N. refugee agency spokesman Chris Melzer said in an email. “We still have no access to the two northern camps, Shimelba and Hitsats (25,248 refugees registered in November). We demand access since the refugees are without supplies for two and a half months now and we are extremely concerned. We also saw satellite pictures and heard frightening reports. But since we don’t have access we cannot confirm them.”

The new report says the satellite images show “smoldering ruins, blackening of structures and collapsed roofs.” The structures, it said, “match the profile of mud-brick dwellings constructed by the refugees themselves. The attackers likely split into multiple groups going door to door to set fires inside buildings,” consistent with previous attacks on the Hitsats camp, which also is inaccessible.

Neither the U.N. nor DX Open Network has blamed anyone for the attacks, but the presence of troops from Eritrea, a bitter enemy of the Tigray region’s now-fugitive leaders, has caused alarm. Grandi noted “many reliable reports and firsthand accounts” of abuses including the forced return of refugees to Eritrea.

The day after Grandi’s statement, Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel tweeted that “UNHCR seems to indulge, yet again, in another bout of gratuitous & irresponsible smear campaigns against Eritrea.” He said Eritrea rejects the “forced repatriation of ‘refugees.'”

Eritrea has been described by human rights groups as one of the world’s most repressive countries. Thousands of people have fled the country over the years to avoid a system of military conscription.

Fighting continues in parts of the Tigray region. Thousands of people have been killed and more than 2 million displaced.

10 comments

  1. Its clear to every one in the world that Eritrean government is fully involved in the war in Tigrai together with Abiy and Amhara forces.
    They had looted, burned and killed innocent Tigrean civilians.
    An independent investigation need to be done and hence all the atrocities, genocide and looting tigreans will be open to the world.
    The world must #TigrayGenocide

  2. It’s unforgivable when refugee camps burn, they desire the whole Tigray’s people to starve to death. How long is the Ethiopian government shut down all communications? The people are screaming to death, no one is listening yet, take a decisions an independent investigation must enter in Tigray

  3. I haven’t spoke my family more than
    2 and half months 😭😭I don’t even know whether they are alive or not. Abiy and Essayas are killing our people and destroyed Tigray history

  4. A leader, #AbiyAhmed who invited a foreign country, #Eritrea, considered hell already…to come in and kill hundreds of thousands, burn, rape and butcher like animals…then loots everything in sight like rats…while #Africa, #UN, #EU, #Asia, #Austrailia, #Canada, #SouthAmerica and The #USA allow this #TigrayGenocide to continue. Where is all the empty promises of #Peace lovers, #Freedom Worshippers & #UN overpaid Ambassadors now?
    #StopWarOnTigray #IsaiasAfwerki & #AbiyAhmed are #terrorist #WarCriminals. #StopAbiy #POTUS #VP #BarackObama #MichelleObama #Oprah #AngelinaJolie #BradPitt #AngelaMerkel #AfricanNations #PresidentSiSi #Pompeo #Trump #NancyPelosi #Republicans #Democrats #MarcoRubio #IlhanOmar #CoreyBooker #DennyHeck #MitchMcConnell #JoeBiden #KamalaHarris #BernieSanders #Pontiff #Beyonce
    Please. Someone. Anyone. Stop them.🙏

  5. Paid cyber militants of Prosperity party like feleke , Natnael tesfaye , couldn’t smother the truth . The international community is getting a firsthand information through its aid workers and their partners.

    Tigreans are suffering for more than 2 months without water,food, home, electricity, transport, telephone, internet. Drones, bombs, and bullets are in turn served to Tigreans who gave their childeren for 17 years to liberate ethiopia , entire ethnics in this country which is in the edge of collapse, from Derge regime.

    What is happening to Tegarus is parallel to our local expression saying handing a handful of sand to a our partner who gave us a gold. They donot deserve it at all.

    This is a well written and factual article. Thank you Mr Alex for sharing your thoughts and experiences with the world. It is a histrorical article , since we are in a defining moment in the relationship between Tegarus and their true brothers and sisters from ethiopia who share their pain and agony . I dinot see myself as ethiopian anymore . Ethiopia took our heritages and history and victorious events that we gained against invanders and intruders.

  6. Yemane Charlie as usual denies. he can never admit because if he admits he knows he will be thrown in the waste basket. PFDJ never admits its wrong policy because Isayas as the dictator claims to be that he is on the right track. Where Isayas is involved there is no peace or stability except war and destabilization.

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