Ethiopia Shuts Down Two Eritrean Refugee Camps

Radio Erena: 10 February 2021

In a press conference in Addis Ababa, on Feb.9, Mr. Tesfahoney Gobzay, the director of the Ethiopian Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs  (ARRA) said that his agency had decided the closure of the Eritrean refugee camps of Shimelba and Hitstas in the Tigray region.

Citing the reasons for the closure, Mr. Gobzay said that the Shimelba camp is only 20 km of the border and it should be located at least 50 km inland. Hitstas camp, on the other hand, is located in an extremely inhospitable area. He also said these two camps were supposed to be shut down a year ago, but the former regional government of  Tigray hindered the procedure.

The Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesperson ambassador Dian Mufti in a response to EU criticism on handling Eritrean refugee affairs said that his country’s support for the Eritrean refugees is “reassuring and the questions raised in this regard are not should not be of concern” he also added that because the refugee’s camps in Tigray were not adequate, the refugees were relocated in Addis Ababa, Amhara region and in other camps in Tigray region.

The war in Tigray forced the displacement of thousands of Eritrean refugees at the time satellite pictures have shown arson and damage of facilities in Shimelba camp.