By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
April 27, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – Authorities in Ethiopia arrested 41 South Sudan Refugees in connection with the recent violence in Ethiopia’s western region of Gambella, the chief administrator of the region, Gatluak Tut disclosed on Wednesday.
- Ethiopia has witnessed a huge influx of South Sudanese refugees since conflict erupted in the young nation in December 2013 (AFP)
Those detained are suspected of killing 14 Ethiopian civilians near Jawi Refugee Camp where South Sudanese refugees who fled to Ethiopia are being sheltered.
The unrest was sparked last week after Ethiopian driver struck and killed two children from the Nuer ethnic group near Jewi refugee camp leading to revenge attacks.
In retaliation, a group of refugees attacked Ethiopians who reside around the camp killing at least 14 Ethiopian civilians and wounded several others.
While deploring the attacks, the refugees perpetrated in a country that sheltered them, with chief administrator saying the case was under investigation.
Gatluak added that the chaos in Gambella town is being dealt with through the integrated efforts of the regional government, Federal Police and Defense Force.
“Consultation are underway with the pertinent bodies to solve problem that arise in relation to refugees” he said
He added a public forum will further be extended to the grassroots to stop the public from being misled by anti-peace forces.
Meanwhile the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) condemned the recent violence in Gambella, and expressed concern about the recent violent incidents in and around the town.
“UNHCR deplores the killings and abductions and would like to express its solidarity with the people and government of Ethiopia during these difficult times. Refugees were not directly affected by this attack” UNHCR Ethiopia branch said in a statement.
“It is regrettable that lives have been lost during these violent incidents and UNHCR extends its deepest sympathies to all individuals and families who have lost their loved ones”
The UN refugee agency urged all concerned groups to exercise restraint to prevent further escalation of the situation.
It also commended the Ethiopian government for reinforcing security in Gambella town and in the refugee camps, which it said has significantly helped to prevent further tragedy.
Gambella currently shelters more than 270,000 South Sudanese refugees of whom over 221,000 of them have arrived following the conflict which erupted in their home country in December 2013.
Violent riots have continued around Jewi camp and retaliatory attacks are feared to cause more casualties. The latest incident comes on the heels of the violent cross-border attack recently carried out by armed South Sudanese men who killed 208 people.
The gunmen also abducted over 100 Ethiopian children in the attack in Gambella region.
Ethiopian defense forces have crossed borders into South Sudan where they are carrying out military operations to rescue the children.