AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - Confusing and inaccurate news about one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies on the planet

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Asmara (Agenzia Fides) - "Intervene to save the lives of the 18 soldiers who are still in Ethiopia and others who are hiding along the Eritrean border with the country at war" is the latest appeal launched to the United Nations and to international organizations by the Eritrean Afar National Congress (EANC).
The news continues to be confusing and inaccurate due to the blocking of communications. From the information that can be gathered, it is clear that this is one of the main humanitarian tragedies on the planet. The organization reportedly issued a statement a few days ago stating that 500 Eritrean Afar soldiers had deserted from the Eritrean army and that three Eritrean generals had been sent to capture and repatriate them to the country. Upon arrival in Bada-Admorug, Ethiopia, in two helicopters, the three generals, including Navy officer Humad Karikare, met with 54 of the troops who had entered Ethiopian territory. It is still reported that 36 of them were forcibly repatriated to Eritrea. The location of the remaining 18 troops could not be confirmed. The source on the ground adds that these troops are at serious risk of being kidnapped. There are also concerns that the successful forced repatriation of 36 deserters by the Eritrean army may encourage the regime to carry out more cross-border kidnappings in Afar and elsewhere. Ethiopia's Afar region is home to more than 50,000 UN-registered Eritrean refugees who have fled their country. In the recent war between Ethiopia and Tigray, the Eritrean refugee camp of Barahle was destroyed, leaving thousands of internally displaced refugees. EANC, the Voice of the Eritrean Afar People, is a political organization in exile dedicated to the self-determination and self-governance of the Eritrean Afar people in the Dankalia area of Eritrea. Recently, the Eritrean regular army bombed the city of Shiraro, of the Kunama ethnic group, hitting a school housing refugees. At least 18 people were injured and a 14-year-old girl was killed. The bombing may have been a response to the defeat of Eritrean forces, who reportedly lost more than 300 soldiers and officers in a recent clash with the TPLF. The city of Shiraro is also one of the symbolic places of the TPLF, which had one of its bases here during the Derg war and currently hosts a large number of refugees. (AP/GF) (Agenzia Fides, 7/6/2022)