Ethiopian Authorities Shoot at Refugees at Mai Ayni and Adiharush

(Shire 08-10-2013) Refugee  Community leaders in camps in Ethiopia have reported that Ethiopian Federal police have opened fire at protesting refugees, it is feared that there have been fatalities among the wounded. 

Home to many thousands of Eritrean refugees, Mai Ayni and Adiharush are United Nations refugee camps situated close to the border with Eritrea.  With their residents far exceeding their capacities, and growing by the week as more Eritreans arrive, conditions in the camps have been deteriorating for some time. 

At the end of last week, tired of their living conditions, hundreds came out in protest in Mai Ayni camp to call for their rights as refugees to be respected.  The authorities within the camp called in the Ethiopian Federal Guard, who subsequently opened fire on the protesters, injuring four, one of whom seriously.  Yesterday, protesters in Adiharush began a similar protest, and their defiance was swiftly dealt with in the same way, with this time six injured, and one protester killed.

This morning, at around 8am, approximately one hundred Eritrean community representatives went to the camp authorities in Mai Ayni, asking for answers on why unarmed protesters had been shot.  All one hundred representatives were arrested.  Later, sixty were released to return to their people, in an attempt to quell the unrest that was bubbling in the camp, but the other forty – which included two women – have been taken to an unknown location and have not been heard from.

We call upon the Ethiopian authorities to immediately release these men and women, and for the rights of refugees in Ethiopia – especially within the refugee camps – to be respected and upheld, in accordance with the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.  We call for an investigation into the shooting of unarmed refugees in a UN camp, and action to be taken where necessary to bring to justice those responsible for the shootings.

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