February 13, 2022
To: His Excellency Mr. Filippo Grandi
High Commissioner, UNHCR, Geneva
Subject: An Urgent Appeal for the Protection of Eritrean Refugees in Barahle camp of Ethiopia
The Eritrean political forces and civic movements in the diaspora are extremely worried about the recent heightened military activities in the Afar region of Ethiopia and particularly, its impact on the Eritrean refugees living in the Barahle district. As the Barahle refugee camp has been demolished by heavy artillery during the fighting, survived Eritrean refugees sheltered in the camp have fled to distant weredas (districts) where their lives are at a great danger.
Your Excellency, as we have previously appeal to you, we would like to again register our deep concerns of the wellbeing and safety of the Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia. Since the start of the armed conflict in northern Ethiopia on the 4th of November 2020, the over 150,000 Eritrean refugees that reside in Ethiopia’s Tigray and Afar regions have been subjected to tremendous suffering and hardship including untold atrocities and killings. Time and again, Eritreans in the refugee camps in Tigray and Afar regions of Ethiopia have been subjected to targeted, as well as collateral impacts, including abductions and forced repatriation, retaliatory killings, drone and air strikes, and many other incidents that have caused untold number of casualties and unimaginable human sufferings on the refugees that include a large number of women and children.
Your Excellency, as the recent refugee situations in the Afar region indicate, we believe it is time to rally the international community to declare the Eritrean refugee camps in Tigray and Afar regions of Ethiopia as “Safe Zones” protected and safeguarded from all forms of military attacks and interferences by any of the combatants in the region. This is within the international norms of the “humanitarian corridors” and we hope your good office to consider the urgency of the matter and take the necessary actions to help in the implementation of such corridors. We believe it is the responsibility of UNHCR to exert its full power to guarantee the safety and wellbeing of the refugees. Moreover, we ask UNHCR to expand its efforts on resettling these refugees in other third countries where their safety can be guaranteed.
Your Excellency, we would like to stress our profound concern for the wellbeing of the Eritrean refugees in the region and, again, appeal to your good office to use its full diplomatic capabilities to:
Guarantee the safety and wellbeing of the Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia; and find their wherabouts after the attack on their camps in Barahle.
Continue to provide critical support, including food and shelter, to the refugees where they are now being settled by Afar ARRA Branch.
Expediate the resettlement of Eritrean refugees in the third countries with the highest urgency and priority.
Implore on the governmental authorities, military forces, and militia groups in the region to ensure the safety of Eritrean refugees;
Ensure that no Eritrean refugee is abducted or forcibly repatriated to Eritrea; and
Gain international Community support in restoring the Eritrean Refugee camps in northern Ethiopia and to declare those camps as “Safe-Zones” enforceable in accordance to international laws.
We hope and trust that Your Excellency will do everything within the power of your good office to help secure full protection for the Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia.
Eritrean Political Forces, and
Eritrean Global Yiakl Movement