Jul 29, 2021 08:40 UTC
  • UNHCR reiterates concerns about refugees in Ethiopia

The United Nations Refugee Agency has voiced concern about the situation of refugees in Ethiopia, as an armed conflict worsens in the Horn of Africa country.

The UNHCR said on Tuesday that it was concerned about the 24,000 Eritrean refugees in two camps in the Tigray region, saying they were cut off from aid and could run out of food and drinking water.

Since Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray last November to oust the region's ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the northern region has been a conflict zone. Fighting has recently spilled into neighboring areas.

Fighters from the rival Amhara region have been battling alongside the Ethiopian government troops against the TPLF, which formerly dominated Ethiopia's political scene.

Separately, Addis Ababa on Tuesday witnessed the parade of thousands of new recruits for the country's armed forces. The recruits, who were singing "Ethiopia is calling," marched in central Meskel Square before heading for military training ahead of possible deployment to Tigray.

Officials said 3,000 young people would join the ranks of Ethiopia's National Defense Force (ENDF).

On Sunday, Amhara's regional President Agegnehu Teshager summoned fighters for battle with the TPLF. Thousands of Amhara fighters, both irregular militias and the regular regional forces, have been mobilized at the border between the two regions to fight Tigrayan forces.

Meanwhile, the United States has expressed concern about the escalation of tensions in the region, urging all sides of the conflict to halt violence. State Department Spokesman Ned Price said Washington had received reports of hostilities in Tigray, condemning any retaliatory attacks against civilians in the region.