UNHCR commissioner met gov’t officials, visited two refugee camps Tigray

UNHCR commissioner met gov’t officials, visited two refugee camps Tigray

UNHCR Commissioner Filippo Grandi reportedly requested Ethiopian government officials to restore communication in areas where it is not restored

UNHCR Commissioner _ Ethiopia UNHCR Commissioner _ Ethiopia
Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonen holding a meeting with UNHCR Commissioner, Filippo Grandi. (Photo : MFAE)

February 1, 2021 

Amid prevalent criticism in western media outlets over alleged blockage of humanitarian assistance and human rights violations in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, High Commissioner for UNHCR, Filippo Grandi,has visited the Tigray region of Ethiopia. He visited two refugee camps in the region. 

He was accompanied by senior government officials including the Minister for Peace, Muferiat Kamil. 

He also held a discussion with top government officials including President Sahle-Work Zewde, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, about the humanitarian assistance in the region. 

The UNHCR has not published a news update on the visit of the High Commissioner to the Tigray region of Ethiopia at this writing.

Demeke Mekonnen called his meeting with the commissioner “productive.” He tweeted : ” Great and productive meeting with #UNHCR @FilippoGrandi, discussed humanitarian assistance efforts underway in #Tigray Region, #Hospitability to Refugees and on relevant current issues. Reaffirmed #Ethiopian Gov’t commitment to #UNHCR support. ”  Demeke Mekonnen  

The office of Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia has released an update regarding the meeting between Ethiopia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs (also Deputy Prime Minister) and the UNHCR commissioner. 

Genesis the law enforcement campaign against Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and why the government of Ethiopia was forced to undertake it is explained to the commissioner, according to the information from the office. 

One of the TPLF top officials,Sekoture Getachew who is reported dead, confirmed on a live Television show in early December 2020 that “Tigray Defense Force” attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Defense Force in several military bases in the region in what it called preemptive “Blitzkrieg” attack. Most of the military bases were attacked when the soldiers were sleeping after midnight. 

It was also said that the Deputy Prime Minister explained to the UNHCR commissioner why the task of delivering humanitarian assistance to the Tigray region turned out to be challenging.  As the TPLF force lost the war, they were engaged in extensive scorched earth approach targeting infrastructures including health institutions, airports, road transport, telephone and power lines. Despite that the government claims that it has distributed humanitarian assistance to about 80 percent of those who need it in the region. 

Regarding criminal activities involving looting in the region, he said that the government is working with the prosecutor general and law enforcement bodies to hold those responsible for it accountable. He also pointed out that TPLF released about 13,000 convicted criminals as it was losing the war, and these criminals are believed to have engaged in criminal activity in the region.  Part of the measure that the government is taking, according to the Deputy Prime Minister, to address the problem was to return to service police force, after re-orientation, in the region. They were made, by TPLF, to fight against the Ethiopian Defense Force. 

Eritrean refugees issues were also part of the conversation. Mr. Demeke Mekonen said there were some Eritrean refugees who were out of the refugee camp, which is close to the border, due to the conflict situation but most are back in the refugee camp and getting humanitarian assistance. 

Commissioner,Filippo Grandi, is said to have requested government officials to work on restoring infrastructure and communication services in areas where there is no connection. 

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