Images show latest ‘attack’ on Ethiopia refugee camp

NAIROBI, KENYA (AP) – New satellite images of a refugee camp in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region show more than 400 structures have been badly damaged in what a research group believes is the latest “intentional attack” by fighters.

The report by the United Kingdom (UK)-based DX Open Network non-profit, shared with The Associated Press (AP), said “it is likely that the fire events of January 16 are yet another episode in a series of military incursions on the camp as reported by (the United Nations (UN) refugee agency)”.

The Shimelba camp is one of four that hosted 96,000 refugees from nearby Eritrea when fighting erupted in early November between Ethiopian forces and those of the defiant Tigray region. The fighting has swept through the camps and two of them, including Shimelba, remain inaccessible to aid workers.

On Thursday, UN Refugee Chief Filippo Grandi cited recent satellite imagery of fires and other destruction at the two inaccessible camps as “concrete indications of major violations of international law”.

A UN refugee agency spokesman yesterday did not immediately respond to questions about the latest reported attack.

The new report said the satellite images show “smouldering ruins, blackening of structures and collapsed roofs”.

The structures, it said, “match the profile of mud-brick dwellings constructed by the refugees themselves. The attackers likely split into multiple groups going door to door to set fires inside buildings”, consistent with previous attacks on the Hitsats camp, which also is inaccessible.