Thursday

6th Oct 2022

Ethiopia's humanitarian crisis risks getting worse, warns UN

The UN refugee chief has warned that a humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia is at risk of spiralling if nothing is done.

Speaking to reporters on Monday (1 February), the UN high commissioner for refugees Flippo Grandi said the humanitarian situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia is "extremely grave".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"The situation as I said is very grave, it is very urgent. Without further action it will get worse," he warned.

Grandi made the comments after visiting some of the refugee camps in Ethiopia over the weekend.

He also said a number of assurances to help those on the ground had been made by Ethiopia's prime minister, deputy prime minister, and other senior officials.

Grandi said some progress on security had been made but that isolated or scattered incidents continued to happen.

"We still have time and I guess in spite of all the suffering that has already happened to intervene now," he said.

Grandi said a big priority was gaining access to the regions affected by the conflict.

Some 16 UN agencies and 25 NGOs have applied. But so far only provisions are being allowed through and are being stored in warehouses in Tigray's capital city Mekelle.

"The aid is stored. The priority now is to get enough personnel on the ground to distribute it with sufficient control, jointly by the government and the UN," he said.

He said Ethiopia's deputy prime minister had discussed the need to create a "more efficient clearance system" to ensure distribution.

Grandi had also spoken to Eritrean refugees, many caught up in the cross fire of a conflict that kicked off last November. The Eritreans are found in four refugee camps in Ethiopia.

Hitsats and Shimelba camps were among the worst affected, he said, noting refugees had been traumatised with many fleeing the fighting. Similar fears of more violence were made by those in Mai- Ayni and Adi Harush, he said.

He said other Ethiopian refugees had been cut off from support and assistance for several weeks and had resorted to eating leaves.

"They also spoke of infiltration of armed actors in the camp, of killings, abductions and also some forced return to Eritrea at the hands of Eritrean forces present in the area," he said.

He said up to 20,000 Eritrean refugees had dispersed from the Hitsats and Shimelba camps. The plan is to get them back.

"The prime minister told me he understood very well this important priority that we he would personally follow up to ensure that this would happen," noted Grandi.

The other plan is to scale up Mai- Ayni and Adi Harush camps so that they can accommodate more people. Some 96,000 Eritrean refugees are in the Tigray region.

Grandi said a deep fear and anxiety had settled in among all Eritrean refugees throughout the country.

"The prime minister, the deputy prime minister, the minster of peace told me that the commitment of Ethiopia to protect Eritrean refugees continues to be undiminished," he said.

Grandi noted that the number of Ethiopian refugees in Sudan is also increasing.

"That number by the way has now exceed 60,000 refugees," he said.

"Most of them, I have to tell you, most of them told me they wanted to return to Ethiopia fairly quickly," he said.

Aside from the logistics, Grandi said the Ethiopian government needs to conduct an investigation in full transparency into the abuses reported during the conflict.

"This investigation needs to be as impartial and credible as possible," he said.

Interview

Cyberattack behind Tigray blackout, says Ethiopia

Hirut Zemene is Ethiopia's ambassador to the European Union. She is demanding for "a balanced view and understanding" by the EU of the conflict in Tigray region. The country is vying for national elections in May.

Last-minute legal changes to Bosnian election law stir controversy

"[…] We were astonished that on election day, the high representative for Bosnia imposed significant further changes to the constitution," Austrian MEP Andreas Schieder, head of the European Parliament election observation delegation to Bosnia said on Monday.

Column

The Iranian regime's expiration date

This 'headscarf revolution' is about women's rights and human rights in general, plus police brutality. Moreover, it is a leaderless revolution that is not driven by a leader or a group, but erupted spontaneously.

News in Brief

  1. Thousands of Hungarian students and teachers protest
  2. Swedish MEP cuts hair mid-speech to support Iran women
  3. Danish general election called for 1 November
  4. Slovenia legalises gay marriage, adoption
  5. Russia's stand-in EU ambassador reprimanded on Ukraine
  6. France warns over incoming eighth Covid wave
  7. EU adds Anguilla, Bahamas and Turks and Caicos to tax-haven blacklist
  8. Czechs warn joint-nationality citizens in Russia on mobilisation

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  2. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  4. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  5. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”

Latest News

  1. EU wants to see US list on Russia financing of politicians
  2. Putin's twin aim: to break Ukraine and West's consensus
  3. Putin's diamond firm off the hook in EU sanctions
  4. The Iranian regime's expiration date
  5. Let's end Bulgaria and Romania's 11-year Schengen purgatory
  6. EU debates new pandemic-type loans to deal with crisis
  7. MEPs condemn EU Commission 'leniency' on Hungary
  8. Czech EU presidency wants asylum pledges to be secret

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us