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UN Kicks as Ethiopia Returns Eritrean Refugees to Tigray

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The United Nations has raised an alarm after the Ethiopian government announced it will return Eritrean refugees who fled Tigray.

Some Eritrean nationals sought safety in Ethiopia, more than one month since a conflict started between the Ethiopian government and Tigray, its most powerful region. The refugees moved out of the camps in Tigray, pressed on the fear of being killed in the conflict.

“A large number of misinformed refugees are moving out in an irregular manner,” the government said in a statement on Friday.

“The government is safely returning those refugees to their respective camps,” the statement said. It added that food is being taken to their camps.

The Eritreans, who border Northern Tigray have been reportedly denied access to food, with the UN refugee agency complaining that more than 96,000 refugees are blocked from receiving aids.

The Ethiopian government has denied it blocked access to the refugees and has stated that Eritreans in Addis Ababa can now safely return to Tigray.

Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces have been at loggerheads with the Ethiopian government with state resources being attacked.

More than 45,000 Ethiopians have fled to Sudan with about 100,000 persons internally displaced.

The government has said it has crushed the TPLF forces with the rebellious Tigrayan soldiers denying they’ve suffered defeat.

Read: Ethiopia Still Battling Tigrayan Fighters Days After Final Offensive

The United States and other powerful nations of the world have since made attempts at mediation with no concrete agreements reached between the warring parties.

Leader of the TPLF, Debretsion Gebremichael said that Eritrean forces, supporting Ethiopians in the war on Tigray are looting in Mekelle, the Tigrayan capital.

Tigray, a region of about 5 million people has brought the Ethiopian government to a standstill after it fired a salvo that has led to retaliatory attacks that has seen thousands dead.

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East Africa News

Serious Sexual Violence, Rape Reported in Ethiopia’s Tigray – UN Envoy

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The United Nations (UN) has revealed that serious allegations of sexual violence are being reported in Tigray, northern Ethiopia.

Pramila Pattern, a Mauritian-British barrister and UN envoy on sexual violence in conflict, said the reports included a high number of alleged rapes in Mekelle, Tigray’s capital.

Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) seized control of Mekelle from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) on 28 November after several weeks of fighting.

“There are also disturbing reports of individuals allegedly forced to rape members of their own family, under threats of imminent violence,” Ms Patten said in a statement.

“Some women have also reportedly been forced by military elements to have sex in exchange for basic commodities.

“While medical centres have indicated an increase in the demand for emergency contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) which is often an indicator of sexual violence in conflict.

“In addition, there are increasing reports of sexual violence against women and girls in a number of refugee camps.”

She called on those parties involved in the hostilities “to commit to a zero-tolerance policy for crimes of sexual violence”.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a ground and air offensive on 4 November to oust the region’s ruling party, after its troops captured federal military bases.

He declared victory in Tigray after a month’s conflict, but fugitive TPLF leaders vowed to continue the fight.

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COVID-19: Kenya Airways Suspends Flights to 2 European Hubs

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Kenya Airways said on Friday it has suspended flights to two major European hubs following the introduction of new regulations as a result of a new variant of the coronavirus.

The Airline said the suspension of the flights is temporary.

The service suspension affects flights to France – Charles de Gaulle Airport and the Netherlands – Schiphol Airport through the month of February 2021.

“The temporary suspension is due to the new COVID-19 regulations in Europe that have resulted in depressed demand,” the airline said in a statement.

The airline expects to resume regular services to France on 3 March, 2021, and to the Netherlands on 7 March, 2021.

The airline said the resumption of the flights will be communicated. “We will keep customers updated in case of any changes to these resumption plans,” the airline added.

KQ said customers who had booked their flights to these two destinations, would be provided with alternative flight options.

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15-Day COVID-19 Lockdown: Rwanda Distributes Food to Vulnerable Families

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Following its decision to lockdown Kigali, its capital, the Rwanda authorities have begun the distribution of COVID-19 palliatives to vulnerable families in affected by the restriction.

News Central reports that the Rwandan government had, on Monday, imposed a 15-day lockdown on Kigali to curb the spread coronavirus after a surge in cases in the capital.

All movements outside homes require an approved permit from the police, except for essential service providers.

However, to help some 3,000 families – identified as the most vulnerable – cope with the lockdown the government is distributing food rations to households.

Local and international reports said that as of Thursday evening households have started receiving sacks of rice, maize flour and beans.

Some 3,000 families have been identified as the most vulnerable. The city has a population of about one million people.

There have been concerns that hundreds of thousands of residents who live hand to mouth would face hunger during the lockdown.

The authorities have assured that food will reach the most vulnerable, as well as poor Covid-19 patients being treated at home.

The rations were being delivered by volunteers who had tested negative before the programme started, city officials said.

A free phone line is available for requests from “those who want and merit the food aid to be delivered at their doorsteps”.

On Thursday Rwanda reported nine Covid-19 deaths, the highest daily fatalities so far, and 310 new cases.

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