According to the United Nations, about 113,000 Eritrean refugees were registered in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray and Afar regions before Ethiopia’s civil war broke out.
But in November 2020, their safe haven exploded. A power struggle between the federal government and the regional government of Tigray boiled over into all-out war. Eritrea sided with federal authorities to crush Tigranan authorities in a pincer movement.
Now, experts warn that Ethiopia is not a safe place for Eritrean refugees.
Early in the conflict, two Eritrean refugee camps near the borders were pillaged by Tigrayan rebels and Eritrean soldiers that Human Rights Watch has termed “evident war crimes”. Last July, fighting reached two other camps farther south in Tigray.
“I just can’t emphasise enough how unprecedented this is,” Sarah Miller, senior fellow with Refugees International, told AFP. “Ethiopia is no longer a safe place for Eritrean refugees – that’s quite clear.”