UNHCR appeals to Ethiopia to let it reach Eritrean refugees who have run out of food
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, appealed to Ethiopia on Tuesday to let humanitarian aid reach thousands of refugees whose supplies have been cut by a month-long conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
“UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is today appealing to the federal authorities in Ethiopia for urgent access in order to reach Eritrean refugees in the Tigray region who are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and services. Our concerns are growing by the hour. The camps will have now run out of food supplies – making hunger and malnutrition a real danger”, UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch told journalists at a regular UN briefing in Geneva.
“We are also alarmed at unconfirmed reports of attacks, abductions and forced recruitment at the refugee camps. UNHCR strongly reiterates its call for safety and security of refugees. With the current difficulties in communications and security hampering access it is not possible to verify current conditions in the camps.”
UNHCR on Monday launched an appeal for $147 million to meet the needs of more than 40,000 Ethiopians who had fled the fighting in Tigray and become refugees in neighbouring Sudan, with numbers projected to rise to 100,000 by April. Baloch said UNHCR also needed access to the Tigray region itself.
“With our concerns growing by the hour, we're appealing to the federal authorities of Ethiopia that access should be urgently provided to us in the Tigray region to reach the desperate people.”
The Eritreans in Tigray had been effectively cut off from UNHCR’s humanitarian support since the fighting began in early November, Baloch said.
“In terms of the access, no access to us since the start of the conflict, to the four refugee camps where there are 96,000 Eritrean refugees, the camps have been there, at least over a decade. And when the conflict started we lost our contact, and it's very hard to verify any information coming out of the region itself.”