AU is trying to mediate, worries are growing for Tigray refugees

Two days after the announcement of the offensive against Mekele, the provincial capital of Tigray, there is still some information about the fighting in the north, where telecommunications are still cut. The African Union met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Friday morning, November 27, as concerns grow over the civilian fate of Tigray. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the 100,000 Eritrean refugees in the four camps in the province, around Shire, will not have anything to eat “from Monday” unless the Ethiopian authorities open the area.

as reported from Addis Ababa,Noé Rochet-BodinandLeonard Vincent,from RFI’s Africa service

As promised, the three envoys from the African Union were received by Abiy Ahmed on Friday morning in Addis Ababa to persuade him to stop his progress on Mekele.

The Prime Minister continues to refuse this initiative. According to him, Tigray is a strictly national business. He also denies sent access to the province, those who wanted to meet the leaders of the TPLF.

It is difficult to know what is happening in Mekele. The city with 500,000 inhabitants is said to be calm right now, according to diplomatic sources. The battles are said to be about fifty kilometers away. Ethiopian state television assures us that the army has recovered Wukro 40 km from Mekele, information that is still difficult to verify. Further north, rockets were reportedly aimed at the Eritrean capital Asmara again this Friday night.

Mekele is still under blockade

Mekele is short of fuel. The province, under military and humanitarian blockade, could run out of food quickly, says the UN.

Despite more than ten days of negotiations, the government is preventing NGOs from providing support to the Tigrayan people. Still, trucks filled with lots of food and medicine are ready to leave Addis Ababa.

UNICEF sounded the alarm by announcing that about half of the province’s residents were in need of humanitarian assistance.

Eritrean refugees on their own

The landscape on the Eritrean border is a deserted plain. There, around Shire, are the barracks Shimelba, Hitsats, Mai Ani and Adi Harush where 96,000 Eritreans live who have fled their country in recent years.

Since the conflict began, information from these camps has been scarce. On November 12, the UNHCR announced that the fighting had come closer to Shimelba and that refugees would therefore be transferred to Hitsats, 50 km away. But a week later, diplomatic sources claimed that the war was approaching this particular camp, with which no contact has been established since then from the refugee family.

In Adi Harush, the situation is tense. Reached by our colleagues from Radio Erena, a refugee explains that a young woman and a child were killed this week by a mortar fired by TPLF forces. The refugees who wanted to flee, he says, were stopped by Fannos, these Amhara peasant militias who are fighting with the regular army and quartering around the camp. Eritrean refugees are alone, without water, without electricity and without much food reserves, he confirms. Their fears: the invasion of the Eritrean army and the uncontrolled members of the militia.

Listening: Offensive in Ethiopia: “For the peoples there is no way to escape from Mekele”


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