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Marked Deterioration in Human Rights Situation in Eritrea

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The Special rapporteur on Eritrea has released a report on the situation of human rights in Eritrea covering the period from 29 April 2021 to 22 April 2022.

The report said that Eritrean forces remained implicated in serious human rights and humanitarian law violations in Tigray. “After Ethiopia announced the withdrawal of Eritrean forces from Tigray in June 2021, Eritrean troops reentered the region in August and took positions in northern and western Tigray.” The Special Rapporteur received “numerous allegations regarding attacks and killings of civilians, rape, the round up and arbitrary detention of hundreds of Tigrayan civilians, pillage, the abduction and forced return of Eritrean refugees and the blockage of humanitarian assistance.”

The Special Rapporteur is “deeply concerned about the role of Eritrean forces in the
obstruction of humanitarian assistance. … Since July, Eritrean forces have strategically occupied positions in western Tigray, effectively blocking access routes from the Sudan. As a result, as of 30 November 2021 the United Nations estimated that only 12 per cent of the relief supplies required had managed to reach the region. The situation severely deteriorated in early 2022, when humanitarian actors had no road access to the region for over three months. The Special Rapporteur welcomes the declaration of a humanitarian truce by the Ethiopian Government on 24 March 2022. However, he notes that as of 21 April only 70 trucks containing food and humanitarian supplies had reached the region, a small fraction of the assistance required.”

The Special Rapporteur said Eritrea has not accepted and implemented previous recommendation. There is no reform in national service which is the main source of HR violation and that there is in fact a “marked deterioration” including “grave human rights violations linked to the national/military service, including abusive conditions, severe punishments and inhuman or degrading treatment, sexual harassment and violence against female conscripts, and the use of conscripts in forced labour.

The Special Raporteur said “The round-up of individuals for the purpose of military conscription (“giffa” in Tigrinya) has dramatically intensified.”

Children Conscripted and Deployed to the war on Tigray

“Most of the children deployed were 16 and 17 years old, and reportedly received limited training, ranging from one to six months of military instruction. .. A large number of children were allegedly injured or killed during the early stages of the conflict, and dozens sustained grave injuries causing disabilities.”

Eritrean Refugees forcibly taken from Refugees Camps in Tigray and conscripted and deployed to fight in Tigray

“The authorities also filled the ranks of the army with conscripted Eritrean refugees
whom the army had kidnapped and forcefully returned from Tigray. Newly conscripted refugees were trained together with conscripts rounded up through giffas in
training centres such as those in Afabet and Kormenae. They were subsequently deployed to
the front [in Tigray].”

Situation of Eritrean Refugees in Tigray and Ethiopia

Before the war, “there were 96,000 Eritrean refugees estimated to be living in Tigray. As of March 2022, 17 months into the conflict, only an estimated 24,785 Eritrean refugees remain in Tigray”

“Eritrean refugees were forcefully returned, detained, punished and forcibly conscripted by the same military forces they had fled from in Eritrea.”

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human
rights in Eritrea

“Eritrean refugees were forcefully returned, detained, punished and forcibly conscripted by the same military forces they had fled from in Eritrea. Eritrean refugees were forcefully returned, detained, punished and forcibly conscripted by the same military forces they had fled from in Eritrea.

“as many Eritreans speak the Tigrinya language, they are often mistaken for
Tigrayans and are discriminated against, harassed or attacked in other regions of Ethiopia.”

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human
rights in Eritrea

The reports said “as many Eritreans speak the Tigrinya language, they are often mistaken for
Tigrayans and are discriminated against, harassed or attacked in other regions of Ethiopia.”

Shortly after entering Tigray in November 2020, Eritrean forces occupied the Shimelba and Hitsats refugee camps, where they singled out members of the refugee committee and perceived members of the opposition, kidnapping dozens of individuals and taking them back to Eritrea. They have been forcibly disappeared since. Both Eritrean and Tigrayan forces violated the civilian nature of refugee camps, alternatively occupying the premises and victimizing refugees.”

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