‘Major violations’ of international law at Tigray refugee camps

Source: Al Jazeera

There have been significant violations of international law at two refugee camps in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, the UN’s refugee agency has said.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said satellite imagery showed fires burning and fresh signs of destruction at the Shimelba and Hitsats camps for refugees from neighbouring Eritrea which people fled due to political persecution and compulsory military service before the conflict in Tigray.

“These are concrete indications of major violations of international law,” Filippo Grandi, commissioner of the UNHCR, said in a statement on Thursday.

The Reuters news agency published satellite images on Tuesday from Planet Lab Inc that showed destruction in the two camps during the first week of January.

Aid agencies say they have been unable to reach the camps since the conflict erupted in Tigray in November between Ethiopian federal forces and the TPLF, the party that used to govern the region.


Eritrean refugee children play in the Hitsats refugee camp [File: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

There has been no comment from Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the government’s emergency task force for the Tigray crisis.In December, a UN team was shot at when it tried to reach the Shimelba camp.

Two diplomatic sources told Reuters the UN team encountered uniformed troops from neighbouring Eritrea.

At the time, Ethiopia and Eritrea denied there were Eritrean troops in Tigray. A senior Ethiopian general has since said they had crossed into the region uninvited.

Grandi said there had been reports of additional military incursions over the last 10 days.

“I continue to receive many reliable reports and first-hand accounts of ongoing insecurity and allegations of grave and distressing human rights abuses, including killings, targeted abductions and forced return of refugees to Eritrea,” he said.


  1. There is no compensation for the grief that happened in Tigray by Minister Abiy Ahmed, Isaias Afwerki and Neftenga groups. There have not been such human violations worldwide. Those dictators desire the whole Tigray’s people to starve to death. The human right watch commission should open eyes, nowadays Tigray is in a very critical situation where the people need, food, clothes and housing instead bombs and chariots which is offered by Abiy and his followers. Minister Abiy Ahmed have not the ability to lead the country efficiently. There are many of the academics who are killed or imprisoned under the leadership of Mister Abiy Ahmed and his supporter Isaias Afewerki who can contribute to the field for which he/she has been trained. It’s time the Isaias afwerki’s soldiers, who plunder the Tigray assets, kills innocent and raped women and children, to leave immediately. They burned the Tigray refugee camps because they are jealous, they don’t want the people to live in peace.

    The Ethiopian Prime Minister and his followers doesn’t care about what happens in Tigray because their goal is to disintegrate/wear off everything that exists in Tigray in order to facilitate them a demographic change in Tigray. It’s difficult to trust the Ethiopian government’s emergency task force for the Tigray crisis because they are under the control of Abiy Ahmed. It’s unforgivable when human rights are violated, refugee camps burn, schools / university bombs to lay students/children’s lives in ruins, small factories and hospitals are plundered, their houses bombed and dismantled, farmers’ crops burned or loaded by Ethiopian / Eritrean soldiers, even animals are killed, plants and trees are cut down. It’s a crime to dismantle everything that the people have built up throughout their lives.
    Tigray’s youth could have a chance to study and to live in peace instead of fighting, imprisoned or killed, it is very strange a peace Nobel laureates man develops an ethnic vandalism, uncritical attacks on civilians and civilian objects, plundering, kidnappings, murders and sexual violence against women and girls, making an increased influx of refugees to neighboring Sudan. Many dies also in the forest before they reach the refugee camps in Sudan. It’s painful and sadly that the Tigray people have been impacted so hard when a new Ethiopian government comes and goes. It’s not funny for all to destroy houses that people live with and it’s also a remarkably to destroy the lives of innocent people.

    As I know the people of Tigray are very kind, disciplined and work very hard to cope with care, but if they treated badly by others, they have the ability to defend their enemies. I think it’s not wrong for Tigray to become independent there is nothing left to live together. I mean the Tigray people must have the freedom to do what they want to do. It will not be easy to live together again unless doing as the people need. In order to have a power thanks to Mister Abiy Ahmed the country is going to divided into different ethnic groups. what can we do differently? The country is going in trouble.

    Thank all in advance for your participation to solve this conflict!

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