Access to Eritrean Refugee Camps in Tigray has been Restored

Boris Cheshirkov, a spokesperson for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), informed journalists in Geneva that emergency aid had been sent to the camps’ 23,000 people, who had been without help since July 13th.

However, he warned that access to the Mai Aini and Adi Harush camps in southern Tigray is limited, with healthcare unavailable and clean drinking water running out.

The agency spokeswoman requested safe passage for the camp’s inmates so that they may be relocated to new facilities in Alemwach, near Dabat town, 135 kilometers away.

He confirmed that two other Eritrean camps in northern Tigray, Shimelba, and Hitsats, had been demolished at the start of this year, while applauding Ethiopian authorities’ decision to issue temporary identification documents to Eritrean refugees in Addis Ababa, which has been in effect since 4 August.

The credentials, which are valid for three years, promise support, services, and protection, according to the UNHCR.

The UNHCR spokeswoman claimed that agency workers and 12 trucks bringing essential aid have arrived in Mekelle, the region’s capital, in the last week, citing better humanitarian access into Tigray.

However, all parties to the conflict must ensure unrestricted access into Tigray and throughout the region, according to Mr. Cheshirkov, in order for UNHCR and our partners to deliver and scale up life-saving humanitarian assistance and protection “to tens of thousands in desperate need of urgent support,” including some who are “still out of reach” amid active conflict.

The appeal comes as fears increase for communities fleeing war in Tigray’s neighboring districts, where 100,000 people have been displaced in Amhara and 70,000 in Afar.

Mr. Cheshirkov noted that refugees continue to cross into Sudan from Ethiopia, noting that more than 275 refugees, including 40 Eritreans, landed in Sudan’s Hamdayet, which borders Tigray, last month.    

Mr. Cheshirkov noted that “a larger group of about 900 persons of Qemant ethnicity entered into Sudan from the Amhara region through Gallabat,” and that UNHCR and its partners were already responding and preparing for a subsequent migration into eastern Sudan.

More than $164.5 million has been requested by the UN agency to help nearly three-quarters of a million people in Tigray, as well as 120,000 Ethiopian refugees in Sudan.

Inside Tigray, the majority of the funds will be used to offer shelter, household necessities, and protection, as well as support for survivors of gender-based violence.

In addition, UNHCR will get $63 million to reinforce its response in eastern Sudan and Blue Nile State, where protective measures, as well as shelter, water and sanitation, health, and logistics, have been implemented, according to the organization.

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