Khartoum, Nov 29 (EFE).- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, on Sunday denounced that the organization has had no access to the conflicted northern Ethiopian region of Tigray, calling on the authorities of the African country to allow aid to be provided to the refugees.
During a presser held in Sudan, concluding a three-day visit to the border with Ethiopia – where 44,000 refugees have arrived – Grandi stressed the importance of granting the international organizations access to the conflicted area to aid the displaced.
Fear of war and retaliation “against them as Tigrayans” forced the Ethiopians to flee their homes during the crucial harvest season, they told Grandi during his visit.
However, Grandi did not want to confirm reports on alleged human rights violations by Ethiopian forces before that is verified first by the UN.
In making their exodus from the region of fighting, the Ethiopian refugees face several obstacles including military checkpoints on their route to Sudan where they were allowed in, Grandi added.
The high commissioner on Saturday visited the Um Rakuba refugee camp located 70 kilometers away from the Ethiopian border, where some 10,000 people are being housed.
In the meantime, the UNHCR has been in contact with Sudanese authorities to set up other camps in safe areas close to the border.
Grandi expressed gratitude to Sudan for welcoming the refugees, stressing that that country – which presently is immersed in a political transitional period – cannot face the crisis by itself given that it already hosts several million of refugees and displaced people.
Therefore, the UNHCR, other UN agencies and humanitarian organizations need to be allowed to provide help, more than three weeks after an offensive by the Ethiopian army against Tigray, in the northern part of the country and on the border with Sudan and Eritrea.
Grandi said he was confident that the UNHCR will receive funds, having asked for $147 million to help the Ethiopian refugees, with that number potentially increasing to 100,000 over the next six months.
Yet, hopefully, the conflict will not last that long, he said.
On Saturday, the Ethiopian government announced that the army had taken “total control” of Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, “successfully” concluding the main military operation against the rebel authorities in the region, although for now it has rejected dialogue and African Union mediation.