Thursday , December 8 2022

EMM Yiakl London – Refugees Letter to UNHCR

Email :
10 August 2021

Dear Mr. Grandi,

We write to you with concern and sorrow for the tens of thousands of vulnerable Eritrean refugees trapped in the active war zone in Tigray, Ethiopia, since 4 November 2020. Swift action must be taken to relocate them to a safe location outside of Ethiopia where they can receive protection, safety and fulfill their human rights.

We are most concerned for those trapped in the Mai Aini and Adi Harush camps in Tigray’s Mai Tsebri area, where thousands of Eritrean refugees live in constant fear of their lives and wellbeing, many of them unaccompanied children. For the past 9 months, they have been caught between crossfire and are under random attacks by armed forces, unable to move and trapped due to troops’ insecurity and ongoing movement. These innocent and vulnerable men, women, and children were already victimized and facing human rights abuses in their home country of Eritrea; they are now faced with another ordeal of terror and injustice.

Multiple credible reports of concern have been released, including from you, Mr Grandi, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). You have issued many statements regarding these Eritrean refugees over the past months. In your most recent statement, you rightly said that you received:
Credible and corroborated reports of reprisal attacks, abductions, arrests and violence meted out against Eritrean refugees for their perceived affiliation with one side or the other throughout this bloody conflict.’ [1]

You went on to say that you had been
‘Disturbed by general criminality against refugees committed, mainly at night, by various armed actors in the Mai Aini and Adi Harush refugee camps.’ [ 2]

This is not the first time Eritrean populations have been targeted in Tigray. In January 2021, our contacts in Tigray and in Eritrea confirmed that that Eritrean refugees suffered killings, targeted abductions, and forced returns to Eritrea at the hands of Eritrean forces. This is extremely alarming and is clearly in breach of international laws. It is likely that these reports do not even represent the full extent of the suffering these refugees are currently enduring, especially as communication to and from the camps is minimal.

The UNHCR is clearly aware of the dire situation these Eritrean refugees find themselves in. Obviously, the area is a war zone, and the refugees are entirely vulnerable, with no one to protect them. Therefore, we appeal to you to take a swift action to relocate them to a safe location. Due to the heightened ethnic tensions in Ethiopia, we demand that these refugees be relocated in a safe country outside of Ethiopia.

In response to the ongoing situation, we call for:

  • All Eritrean refugees in Mai Aini and Adi Harush camps in the Tigray region and other camps and cities in Ethiopia to be relocated in a safe third country outside Ethiopia.
  • The provision of basic support, such as shelter, food, medication, and blankets to the displaced.
  • The provision of ID cards and proof of refugee registration to those who lost them during the conflict.
  • A viable solution for the Eritrean urban refugees in Addis Ababa, who face serious safety and welfare risks.

This is not a political issue, this is a human rights and child protection issue; immediate action is needed to give these Eritrean refugees the safety, protection, and dignity they rightfully deserve.

In anticipation of a positive response from you, we thank you in advance on behalf of Eritrean refugees across Ethiopia.

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