‘Grave violations’ of international law in the Tigray refugee camps | Ethiopia News


The United Nations says satellite imagery showed burning fires and new signs of destruction in the Chimelpa and Hitzats refugee camps.

The United Nations refugee agency said there were major violations of international law in two refugee camps in the northern Tigray region of Ethiopia.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said satellite imagery showed burning fires and new signs of devastation in the Shemelpa and Hitzats refugee camps from neighboring Eritrea from which people fled due to political persecution and compulsory military service prior to the conflict in Tigray.

“These are tangible indications of serious violations of international law,” Filippo Grandi, Commissioner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement on Thursday.

And Reuters news agency published, on Tuesday, satellite images from Planet Lab, which showed the destruction in the two camps during the first week of January.

Aid agencies say they have not been able to reach the camps since conflict flared up in Tigray in November between Ethiopian federal forces and the Tigrayan Liberation Front, the party that ruled the region.

Eritrean refugee children play in the Hezats refugee camp [File: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

There was no immediate comment from Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the government’s emergency forces in the Tigray crisis.

In December, a UN team was shot dead as it tried to reach Chimelpa camp.

Two diplomatic sources told Reuters that the UN team had met uniformed forces from neighboring Eritrea.

At the time, Ethiopia and Eritrea denied the presence of Eritrean forces in Tigray. A senior Ethiopian general has since said that they crossed into the area without an invitation.

Grandi said there had been reports of additional military incursions over the past 10 days.

He said, “I continue to receive many reliable reports and first-hand accounts of continuing insecurity and allegations of gross and worrying human rights violations, including murder, targeted kidnapping and the forcible return of refugees to Eritrea.”

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