ADDIS ABABA, FEBRUARY 27, 2022 — Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) forces displaced over 34,246 Eritrean refugees who were stationed in Berhale Woreda of Afar National Regional State, according to a report from Refugees and Returnees Services Afar branch.
TPLF launched an offensive claiming to defend itself against so-called "Red Sea Afar forces" last month. However, there were no armed groups from the Red Sea in Ethiopia but instead impoverished refugees taking shelter under the scorching sun of Barhale. TPLF's true intention appeared to be an ethnic cleansing targeting the Afar and their land which is full of salt and potash.
Exactly last month, the Red Sea Afar Human Rights Organization (RSAHRO) expressed its deep concern about the deteriorating security, humanitarian, and human rights situations, as well as the safety and well-being of Eritrean Refugees, mostly from ethnic Afar living in Barahle district, Kiblatti Rasu of the Afar Regional State, as a result of the ongoing war in the region as a whole, and in Barahle particularly.
After nearly a month of silence, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said it staff came into contact with refugees who trekked all the way from Barhale to Semera, capital of Afar, under the 40 degrees or more heat.
Refugees who trekked the long distance to the regional capital in Semera told UNHCR staff that armed men entered the camp on 3 February, stole their belongings and occupied their homes. According to their testimonies, at least five refugees were killed and several women were kidnapped. Family members lost one another in the chaos of fleeing the camp.
Meanwhile Ethiopia's top government agency on refugee affairs, Refugees and Returnees Service, said its delegation along with UNHCR team visited displaced refugees in Semera on 21 February 2022.
It said more than 4,000 displaced refugees from Berhale camp are resettled in Semera at a temporary shelter.
During its discussion with the refugees, the refugees pointed out that they left their camp following the encroachment of TPLF into Barhale; and then scattered to different places - Hamidella, Dabure, Alataf, Afdera, Sidsa and Dallol.
The RRS delegation, together with partners working on refugees, also visited the new allotted site at Serdo, which is 40km south from Semera on the main road to Djibouti.