UNHCR Rejects Allegations on Abduction, Forced Return of Eritrean Refugees

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Addis Abab Janoury 29/2021 (ENA) The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has rejected media’s allegations about the abduction and forced return of Eritrean refugees sheltered in refugee camps in Tigray Regional State.

The rejection comes after UNHCR’s delegation led by Country Representative Ann Allen Encontre paid a visit to Mai-Ani and Adi-Harush refugee camps on Tuesday, January 26, 2021 in Tigray region, accompanied by  officials from the Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) of  Ethiopia.

According to African Press Agency (APA), the officials held discussion with refugee representatives in Tigray Regional State camps based on the media concerns about  the whole situation of the camps and the way forward to improve quality  of services.

UNHCR Ethiopia Spokesperson Chris Melzer told local media that the media’s accusation about abduction and forced return of Eritrean refugees is not confirmed by the testimonies of refugee  representatives.

The UNHCR officials also witnessed that the majority of refugees are still residing in the camps.

“Now the situation has significantly improved and our partner, the World Food  Program (WFP), has been carrying out food distribution for the month of  January. The refugees were also obtained WFP’s food ration in last month and we are confirmed that they will no longer be starved.” he  underlined.

Applauding efforts the government of Ethiopia to ensure international standard of services for refugees, Chris reaffirmed UNHCR’s support to address challenges that have been caused  by the interruption of tap water supply as well as education and health service delivery.

UNHCR Ethiopia Spokesperson Chris Melzer told local media that the media’s accusation about the abduction and forced return of Eritrean refugees is not confirmed by the testimonies of refugee representatives.

The UNHCR officials also witnessed that the majority of refugees are still residing in the camps.

“Now  the situation is significantly improved and our partner the World Food  Program (WFP) has been carrying out food distribution for the month of  January. The refugees also obtained WFP’s food ration in  last month and we have confirmed that they will no longer be starved.” he  underlined.

Applauding efforts of the Government of Ethiopia has done to ensure international standard of services for refugees, Chris  reaffirmed UNHCR’s support to address challenges that have been caused by the interruption of tap water supply as well as education and health service delivery.

According to African Press Agency, ARRA Public Relations Officer Beakal Nigussie said the basic and social services for Eritrean refugees have now been resumed in Mai-Ani and Adi-Harush refugee camps.

Besides the ongoing food distribution process for the month of January, which  was carried out for the second time, different service provision centers have also been made to resume operation in the camps, he added.

Noting the existence of more than 900,000 refugees sheltered in the country, the officer pointed out that the number of refugees affected by the interruption of services due to the law enforcement operation is insignificant.

Beakal highlighted that consolidated efforts have been underway to encourage global  actors to enhance their support for Ethiopia’s efforts to avail the crucial services to refugees that are sheltered in the 26 camps spread across the country.