Eritrea frees 46 Tigrayan detainees, some held for over a year

Addis Abeba – Yesterday, Eritrea released 46 individuals of Tigrayan descent who had been detained in prison for a minimum of two months to over a year.

According to a regional official who confirmed the release of the individuals, the majority of the detainees were apprehended from the Tahtay Adiyabo district, situated in the North Western Zone of the Tigray region.

In an interview with Addis Standard, Mebrahtom Gezaei, the head of peace and security in the Tahtay Adiyabo district, revealed that these individuals were held in the Barentu prison. This prison facility is situated within Gash-Barka, an administrative region of Eritrea.

Mebrahtom elaborated that the detainees who were released yesterday were initially subjected to abduction before being subsequently detained in Eritrea.

Tahtay Adiyabo district shares a northern border with Eritrea.

Reports indicate that the abduction of individuals from areas within Tigray under the control of Eritrean forces has heightened despite the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) in November 2022.

In December 2013, Addis Standard reported on the abduction of 26 individuals by Eritrean forces from Gulomekeda, a district situated in the Eastern Tigray zone.

Regional officials have indicated that Zalambessa town and six kebeles of Gulomekeda district are predominantly under the control of Eritrean forces. This occupation by Eritrean forces stems from the outbreak of conflict in the Tigray region in November 2020.

Last week, a delegation under the AU Monitoring, Verification, and Compliance Mission (AU-MVCM) conducted a visit to the Gulemekeda district and Zalambessa town.

This visit, marking the second instance since the signing of the Pretoria accord, aimed to assess progress towards fulfilling the terms of the Pretoria deal and evaluate the status of the local population residing in areas under Eritrean control.

Similar abductions have been documented in various areas of the Tigray region by Eritrean forces.

In September 2023, district officials in Irob reported that 28 youths had been abducted by Eritrean troops over a span of ten months.

Following the incident, Eyasu Misgina, the head of the Irob district administration, disclosed that the families of the abductees remain unaware of their whereabouts.

One mother, recounting her experience to Addis Standard, revealed that her child and other siblings were taken by Eritrean forces in November 2022, shortly after the signing of the Pretoria Peace Agreement.

The mother, who emphasized that these abducted individuals are civilians who do not possess any weapons and are not militias, also indicated that six additional youths were taken from her village within a week.

On 18 January, 2023, additional reports also emerged detailing the abduction of 10 youths by Eritrean troops from Gure Endagabir, a location near Axum city, situated 107 kilometers from the regional capital of Mekelle. AS

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