Attack on Refugee Camp in Afar Kills Five

ADDIS ABABA – At least five refugees were killed in a latest TPLF attack on Barahle refugee camp set up for Eritrean refugees in Afar region of Ethiopia.

Eritrean refugees who fled to the regional capital in Semera told staff of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) that armed men entered the camp on 3 February, stole their belongings and occupied their homes.

At least five refugees were killed and several women were kidnapped, according to their testimonies.

“Family members lost one another in the chaos of fleeing the camp,” said Boris Cheshirkov, UNHCR spokesperson, during a press briefing in Geneva on Friday.

So far, over 4,000 refugees are in Semera where they are getting immediate support with shelter, relief items, food as well as clean water.

‘Many Leaving Camp’

The UNHCR in collaboration with Ethiopia’s Government Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS) and partners are providing the emergency aid the Eritrean refugees.

“We have also set up protection desks where the most vulnerable among the refugees, including separated children and others with specific needs, are being identified and provided with support,” Cheshirkov said.

Apart from those who fled Barahle camp, aound 10,000 refugees are also reported to be living in Afdera town, approximately 225 kilometers from Semera, according to the UN agency.

“Others are also believed to have fled towards the towns of Altefa and Dabure, further inland,” said Cheshirkov.

Apart from refugees, TPLF’s ongoing aggression on Afar, neighbouring region of Tigray, has also increased the internally displaced people to more than 300,000

“Extremely worried”

The government has identified a temporary site in Serdo town, 40 kilometers from Semera, where UNHCR, RRS and partners are making preparations in order to quickly relocate refugees.

The UNHCR said it “remains extremely worried about the safety and wellbeing of thousands of Eritrean refugees caught up in the conflict”.

“We condemn the attack on the refugee camp and reiterate the call for cessation of hostilities to avoid further destruction and potential loss of life for refugees and Ethiopians alike,” said Cheshirkov.

UNHCR also pledged to continue our efforts to support the Ethiopian government in its response to refugees and displaced populations affected by the conflict.


Featured Image Caption: Eritrean refugees displaced by fighting in Ethiopia’s Afar region receive assistance near the regional capital Semera. [Photo UNHCR/Laurence Bron]