Infringement of International Law at Tigray Refugee Camps


United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), reported on Thursday during a press briefing that two refugee camps in the Tigray region were prone to significant international law violations. This was because of the unending violations refugees in the area were undergoing.

Proof of Violations

Satellite imagery in the region showed images of burning flames and new signs of destruction. The camps, Hitsats and Shimelba, which host refugees from neighboring countries, were no longer a safe environment for the immigrants. Most of the refugees living in these camps flee their countries because of political crises and insurgencies.

Filippo Grandi,  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, stated earlier that the incident was a concrete indication of significant international law violations.  News agencies like Reuters published satellite images on Tuesday showing pictures of the destruction which was ongoing in the two camps amid the onset of January this year.

Is Tigray Dangerous?

Rescue agencies have claimed that they failed to respond to the agent situation because of Tigray’s instability. In December and November, the Tigray region has been unsafe following the consistent attacks between Federal forces and Tigray militants. The violence is attributable to Prime Minister Abiy’s government and Tigray Peoples Liberation Front’s political differences. However, the current situation is not any better as Mr. Abiy declared war on the TPLF party.

As Tigray’s situation still deteriorates, Ethiopia’s government is restricting media personalities from accessing the region. Therefore agencies like Reuters could not verify the current status in the area.

Moreover, in December, a team of UN members was shot while trying to reach the Shimelba camp in Tigray. According to diplomatic sources, the group encountered uniformed troops who were from the neighboring state of Eritrea. However, the Ethiopian government refuted that there were Eritrean troops on Ethiopian soil. They claimed that probably the troops were there uninvited.

Grandi, the Commissioner for refugees, also said that they had received numerous military incursions reports over the last ten 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, targetted abductions, and forced return of refugees to Eritrea, ” he said.

When asked about the issue, the information’s Minister of Eritrea did not give an immediate response to the question. Eritrea’s ongoing insecurity confirms that the UNHCR teams deployed in the region had not done much to assist the victims. Because thousands of Eritrean refugees were running away from the camps looking for a better environment. Grandi reported that Eritrean refugees arrived in Tigray worn out, barefoot, and begging for help, which was not available at that time.

The refugee commissioner promised to ensure the well being of the refugees in Tigray. He said he had already communicated with the Ethiopian government and demanded them to act swiftly to ensure the refugees’ protection. He warned them to prevent the immigrants’ forced return and keep their camps safe from attacks and threats from armed groups.



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