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News: Thousands of Tigrayans illegally held in Afar camps begin return to Ab’ala town

Addis Abeba – Thousands of Tigrayans who were forcibly kept in detention camps in Semera, in Afar regional state, began returning to Ab’ala town.

The UNOCHA tweeted a photo with information: “today in Semera, Afar region, the return of thousands of Internally Displaced People (IDP) to Ab’ala town began. The return operation will continue over the next couple of weeks. OCHA is working with partners to ensure safe transition for returnees.”

In June this year, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) documented the detention of around 9, 000 Tigrayans who were held “illegally and unconstitutionally” since December 2021 in Semera and Agatina camps in the town of Semera, Afar Regional state. The Commission has called for the immediate end to the detention. The Tigrayans who spoke with EHRC’s monitoring team said they had been evicted from their homes and were being held without their consent.

They were taken from three districts in the Afar Region bordering Tigray, namely, Ab’ala, Koneba and Berhale, in connection with the civil war. Local authorities said they were held for the purpose of “their own security” and in connection with “suspicion of crimes.”

However, EHRC’s report revealed that there were 8,560 people in the two camps and men and women were separated, forcing members of the same family to live apart. “The extremely limited availability of humanitarian aid and medical services caused epidemic-like diseases in the camps, including loss of lives”, and it is “exacerbated by the fact that they are “not allowed” to receive medical facility except for when a woman is “to give birth,” EHRC said. AS

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