The number of Eritrean refugees fleeing to Ethiopia is NOT falling

By Selam Kidane

Notes from my visit to a refugee reception centre near Adwa

Photos by Selam Kidane taken at Hitsats, Eritrean refugee camp, Tigray regional state in Northern EthiopiaThe number of refugees isn’t going down.

One of the reception centres, near Adwa, says they receive up to 50 refugees a day.

Their ages range from 5-50.

This is a high number, as during the rainy season numbers are expected to decrease, as the rivers are full.

The highest number of arrivals are still national service recruits; a significant proportion are unaccompanied children.

The smallest children are brought to the Mereb river by smugglers and then fellow travellers carry them across.

Photos by Selam Kidane taken at Hitsats, Eritrean refugee camp, Tigray regional state in Northern Ethiopia

A rising number of children who are currently arriving have parents in Europe.

You can tell that they are different from the children in the border region from their appearance and clothing.

Local children simply cross the river from nearby villages because their friends and siblings had also done so.

The ones that are coming from central region cities and towns report paying up to $3,000 for the trip.

The deal is meant to cover the journey to Sudan, so they consider Ethiopia as a transit point.

There are still shootings at the border

In June two soldiers who were crossing together were shot at. One of them died. The other made it across to the Ethiopian side, wounded.

In Tsorona (also in June) a group of 20 people, including women and children, was shot at: 5 women were killed.

Last month two young boys were killed in a mine accident.

The other trend is that whole families are travelling together: parents with 5-6 children.

In addition to the national service the biggest push factor is a sense of hoplesness inside Eritrea.

Some of the refugees bring their life’s savings with them to start small businesses in the region. Others want to pursue further education.

Photos by Selam Kidane taken at Hitsats, Eritrean refugee camp, Tigray regional state in Northern Ethiopia

Photos by Selam Kidane taken at Hitsats refugee camp for Eritreans, Tigray regional state, Northern Ethiopia.

Hitsats is located approximately 45 kilometres from Shire Endasellasie, the seat of North-western Zone of Tigray, about 1,130 km north of Addis Ababa

 

 

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