UN condemns deadly airstrike on Tigray refugee camp

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, has condemned a deadly airstrike on the Mai Aini refugee camp in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, that left three refugees dead.

Mr Grandi reiterated UNHCR’s call for all parties to the conflict to “respect the rights of all civilians, including refugees.”

According to him, UNHCR continues to gather and corroborate details on Wednesday’s attack that left three Eritrean refugees dead – two of them children – and four others injured.

“Refugee settlements must always be protected in line with international legal obligations that apply to all who take up arms,” he said, offering his thoughts and deepest sympathies to the loved ones of those killed.

Meanwhile, the wider humanitarian crisis that has wracked Ethiopia since hostilities began between Government forces and fighters of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in November 2020 continues.

Some 5.2 million people currently need help in the northern regions of Tigray, Amhara and Afar. Amidst widespread human rights abuses allegations, thousands are feared killed as more than two million have been forced to flee their homes.

Over the past few months, killings, looting and destruction of health centres and farming infrastructure, including irrigation systems vital to production, have caused humanitarian needs to surge.

UN humanitarians report that the situation in the northern part of the country remains unpredictable and volatile.

“In Tigray, the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate, with tensions restricting the movement of humanitarian supplies along the only available route from Semera to Abala to Mekelle. No trucks carrying humanitarian supplies have been able to enter Tigray since December 15,” UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists on Thursday in New York.

Since July 12, 2021, only 1,338 trucks have entered Tigray, less than 12 per cent of those required. Around 100 trucks must be admitted every day to meet the humanitarian need of people in Tigray.

As of January 3, UN partners who have been distributing food in the region have only around 10,000 litres of fuel left, while at least 60,000 litres are needed to dispatch the limited food supplies currently available in Mekelle.

“Several UN and non-Governmental organisations will be forced to cease operations if humanitarian supplies, fuel and cash are not delivered to Tigray very soon,” Mr Dujarric warned.

UN humanitarian staff reported that people continue to be displaced, including Afar, Amhara, and the western zone of Tigray.

“People are also returning, along with those people needing food, water, sanitation and shelter,” added the UN spokesperson. “Our partners continue to work with authorities to ensure that the returns are well planned, voluntary and dignified and that returnees have adequate support.”


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