Ethiopia’s Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) has announced the government’s decision to close down two Eritrean refugee camps in the restive Tigray region.Briefing journalists on Tuesday, Director of the Agency Tesfahun Gobezay said the government has already decided to shut Shimelba and Hitsats refugee camps that host Eritrean migrants.
The refugee camps were inhospitable for migrants and Shimelba refugee camp is located 20 kilometres away from Eritrea as opposed to the 50km away from the border based on international law.
The government of Ethiopia had tried to relocate the refugees in these camps to other areas had it not been for the refusal of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that was administering the region before the beginning of the law enforcement operation, he said.
He admitted that the refugee camps were attacked by people in the surrounding areas after information was circulated that the Eritrean troops had been involved in the conflict between TPLF and the federal government.
“They should not have been opened in the first place,” he said, on the grounds of environmental adversity and distance from the border.
He said the Eritrean refugees will be either transferred to other refugee camps or be given the opportunity for local integration, as Voice of America Amharic Service reported.
Ethiopian government admitted that there had been loss of lives and property damages for which it blames TPLF Forces.
Information from the agency indicates that there are over 200,000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia.
Half of them live in refugee camps in the Tigray region.