(Source: Vice.com, 11 December 2020) –
In what appears to be an unprecedented move, the Ethiopian government has taken control of a refugee processing center run by the International Organization for Migration, a UN organization, in the country’s capital city, Addis Ababa. Whether IOM willingly ceded the facility, or whether it was seized by force, is unclear.
The center in question had become a makeshift shelter for Eritrean refugees previously housed at camps in the Tigray region, which has since become a war zone. Multiple sources confirm that since the Ethiopian government’s takeover of the centre, Eritrean refugees have been forced aboard buses that have since left for Tigray. According to Bloomberg, refugees were gathered from the center yesterday and forced to return to camps in Tigray.
The International Organization for Migration, or IOM, issued a press releasetoday that disputed it was involved in the forced removal. “The International Organization for Migration (IOM) strongly refutes allegations that a group of Eritrean refugees are being held by IOM and being processed for forced return in one of its transit centres in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa,” the statement read. “The organization equally rejects allegations that IOM buses have been used to transport the refugees to an unknown destination.”
Instead, according to the communique, activities at the center have been run by the Ethiopian Government’s Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) since December 3. “IOM has had no management authority, oversight or involvement in any activities undertaken by the authorities in the centre since that time,” the press release said.
“The government has taken over the management of the centre,” Safa Mseheli, an IOM spokesperson, confirmed to VICE World News in an email. Continue Reading