UN Refugee Agency says Stands Ready for Tigray Region

ADDIS ABEBA – The UN Refugee Agency or UNHCR said on Friday it is ready to resume deliver humanitarian assistance in the Tigray region, following an agreement with the government to restore access.

The refugee agency “stands ready to resume its full humanitarian activities in the Tigray region as soon as the situation allows”, said Babar Baloch, UNHCR’s spokesperson.

On Wednesday, the UN announced it had reached an agreement to administer aid in areas of Tigray that were government-controlled.

The fate of Nearly 100,000 Eritrean refugees who before the conflict were living in camps in northern Tigray in areas are of particular concern for the United Nations.

The government declared fighting in the northern region of Ethiopia was “completed” last week after federal forces entered the regional capital Mekele. But Security remains a concern for the refugee agency.

“We continue to receive disturbing reports regarding the Eritrean refugee camps in the region, which remain incommunicado,” Baloch said, adding that the details of damages and disruptions “remain unknown until we are able to reach them and verify the information”.

The agency staff have already distributed water, high energy biscuits, clothes, mattresses, sleeping mats and blankets to an estimated 5,000 internally displaced in Shire town.

UNHCR and the federal government’s refugee agency are in constant talks on logistics arrangements, and the need to assess the security situation before the resumption of humanitarian activities.

Refugees hope to return soon

Fears are that many Eritrean refugees may have already fled the camp in search of safety, according to UNHCR. Inside neighboring Sudan, Baloch said Ethiopian refugee arrivals continue with the total number has now crossed 47,000 after over 1,000 people arrived on Thursday.

“Refugees are telling UNHCR of more people on the move in search of safety,” the spokesperson said. “A small number of Eritrean refugees have also arrived from the Tigray region in recent days”.

The Sudanese authorities have moved some 11,150 refugees from Hamdayet and Abderafi border points to Um Rakuba camp – 70 kilometres away from the Ethiopian border.

“Many refugees say they prefer to remain near the border to wait for family members still in Ethiopia, or in hopes they will be able to return home soon – including farmers, who have fled during the harvesting season,” the spokespersons said.



Featured Image: UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi, seen in the photo speaking with refugees in Sudan on November 29, said that the refugees he spoke to wanted to go back home. [Photo Unhcr]


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