UNHCR rejects allegations on abduction, forced return of Eritrean refugees

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has rejected media's allegations about the abduction and forced return of Eritrean…

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 the restive Tigray State of Ethiopia.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 in Tigray region accompanied by  officials from the Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) of  Ethiopia.

The officials held discussion with refugee  representatives in the stated 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 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 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 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.

Public Relations Officer at ARRA, Beakal  Nigussie on his part said the basic and social services for Eritrean  refugees has 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 said.

Noting  that over 900,000 refugees sheltered in the country, he indicated that  the number of refugees affected by the interruption of services due to  the law enforcement operation is very insignificant.

Beakal  highlighted that consolidated efforts are 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.