ADDIS ABABA -The United Nations refugee agency on Wednesday said it is aware of media reports that some Ethiopian refugees registered in Sudan have returned to Ethiopia and are allegedly involved in the conflict there.
Soldiers of TPLF, a group designated as terrorist by the Ethiopian parliament, infiltrated from Sudan have reportedly been captured and some carrying UNHCR ID cards.
In a statement, the UN High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) said it has also observed a decrease in the number of refugees in the camps.
“While there has been a modest decrease in the number of Ethiopian refugees in the refugee camps in recent months, UNHCR is not able to verify the whereabouts of those who have left, including those who may have returned to their country of origin,” the statement reads.
It says refugee status is incompatible with active participation in armed conflict”.
“Any registered refugees who may have returned to Ethiopia and joined the conflict are no longer considered refugees,” the statement says.
UNHCR has stressed the importance of maintaining the civilian and humanitarian character of asylum, which can be a challenge in conflict situations.
“We continue to work with the government of Sudan in support of their responsibility and commitment to uphold this key principle, which includes separating identified combatants from the civilian population seeking asylum.”
According to media reports, these are members of the armed group known as ‘SAMRI’ that are trained and deployed to distractive activities in Ethiopia by TPLF, a group designated as terrorist by the parliament earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the group killed 120 civilians in a village 10 km from the town of Dabat, in Amhara region, that took place on Sept. 1 and 2, officials said.
Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in the region as TPLF forces have advanced.