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#NewsAlert: Ethiopia Refugees and Returnees Service DG announces departure

Tesfahun Gobezay. Photo: FanaBC

Addis Abebe: Tesfahun Gebezay, Director General at Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS), has announced that he is “leaving” his position as Director General effective today. Tesfahun was appointed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to lead RRS some two and half years ago.

He has been in change of RRS at a time when Ethiopia is hosting more than 900,000 refugees from some 26 countries, according to RRS, “making it the third largest hosting nation in Africa.”

The majority of these refugees originate from neighboring South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and the Sudan, of whome majority are currently sheltered in 25 camps, while some others are allowed to live outside the camps including the capital Addis Abeba.

Recently however, RRS has been under the spotlight and was forced to respond to a report by Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on its concerns about forced deportation of Eritrean nationals from Addis Abeba, as well as issue a dismissal on a BBC report about the “denial of birth registration for Eritrean refugees.”

In mid July a panel of United Nations experts also issued statement strongly condemning the reports of the expulsion of hundreds of Eritrean individuals, stating that it is a clear violation of international law. The pans asked the government to cease any further deportations and put an end to the arbitrary detention of Eritrean refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants.

The militarized violence that broke out in the neighboring Sudan in April 2023 has also resulted in more than 60, 000 refugees from 65 different nationalities, arrive at the Metema crossing point, in the Amhara region, putting further pressure on RRS.

In his statement announcing his departure, Tesfahun states “reversing a major media campaign” against Ethiopia as one of his achievements while leading the RRS. He added that his time at the RRS has come to an end and he has been transferred to a new responsibility. AS

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