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UN official expresses concern over safety of refugees in Ethiopia's Tigray
update:January 18,2021
ADDIS ABABA, Jan.18,2021 -- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on Friday expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia's Tigray region and refugees hosted there.
"I remain extremely troubled by the humanitarian situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and its impact on civilians, in particular Eritrean refugees hosted in the region," Grandi said in a statement.
Grandi also noted "some positive developments" recently in accessing and assisting vulnerable populations, including the transport and distribution of food to some 25,000 Eritrean refugees in the Mai-Aini and Adi Harush camps in Tigray.
He said the UNHCR and partners carried out a rapid assessment mission last week at the two camps with the Ethiopian Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs and have been able to start restoring the water supply and limited health services.
UNHCR and partners "have not yet had any access to the Shimelba and Hitsats refugee camps since the start of the law and order operation two months ago."
"I am very worried for the safety and well-being of Eritrean refugees in those camps. They have been without any aid for many weeks," Grandi said.
Reports of additional military incursions over the last 10 days are consistent with open source satellite imagery showing new fires burning and other fresh signs of destruction at the two camps, the UNHCR chief said.
Last month, the Ethiopian government affirmed that the recently concluded military operation in Ethiopia's conflict-hit Tigray regional state "was not a direct threat to the Eritrean refugees" residing within and outside refugee camps in the region.
Noting that the East African country has "a very long and cherished history of hospitality and generosity" to people who are forcibly displaced due to man-made and natural calamities, the state of emergency task force stressed that the Ethiopian government is presently providing protection to nearly 1 million refugees mainly from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan, who are being hosted across 26 camps and non-camp locations.
The Ethiopia refugee operation is now home to nearly 200,000 Eritrean refugees across the country, most of them are mainly sheltered in Tigray and Afar regional states as well as in the capital, Addis Ababa, according to figures from the Ethiopian government. 
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