Eritrean refugees flee camps in Tigray seeking safety in Ethiopian cities

Eritrean refugees are pouring out of the UN camps in which they have been living, to escape being engulfed in the fighting in Tigray.

They have been targeted by Eritrean forces who are fighting alongside the Ethiopian Federal forces. Eritrean refugees are reported to have been forcibly returned to Eritrea, or even put into uniform and sent to the frontline.

Reports from the Adi Harush refugee camp says that many fear for their safety. They are staying up all night, to try to prevent attacks and abductions from the camp.

Adi Harush is the most southerly of the camps in Tigray and was home to over 32,000 Eritrean refugees before the fighting, who fled from their country to escape its repressive conditions.

Four camps held 96,000 refugees before the fighting began on 4th of November; it’s unclear how many remain. There are few remaining supplies of food, and fuel and water are scarce.

Some of those leaving the camps are heading for Gondar, others for Bahir Dar – the capital of the neighbouring Amhara region, and then finally on to Addis Ababa.

To get as far as Gondar they each pay 200 birr for a car.  Those that cannot afford the fare are having to walk.

Eritrean refugees – some from the camps and others who were integrated into the Tigrayan – are also making their way to Addis Ababa. Hundreds have already arrived and are having to find homes and support to get by.

Eritrean aid agencies are calling on the UNHCR to extend protection and assistance to the refugees wherever they flee to.

The camps are increasingly unsafe – a point underlined when UN security team came under fire today while in the vicinity of a camp.