Lord Alton of Liverpool – To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the statement from the UNHCR on 19 January concerning the impact of the conflict in Tigray on Eritrean refugee camps in the region.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon – We note the statement from the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on 19 January, and welcome the news that they have regained access to the Mai Aini and Adi Harush refugee camps in Tigray. It is clear that the conflict in Tigray has had significant consequences and has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, internally and externally, as well as adversely impacting upon those that were already in need of humanitarian assistance. We have raised our concerns with Ministers in both the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments, making clear the overriding need to protect civilians and adhere to international law and international human rights law.
UK-funded aid agencies in Tigray are working hard to deliver support in challenging circumstances, including shelter, water and healthcare. We continue to work with the UN to promote and monitor access and the delivery of humanitarian support to all those who need it, including to civilians in contested areas. The UK continues to press, at the highest levels, for sustained, free and unfettered humanitarian access across Tigray, so that the UNHCR can uphold its mandate towards refugees.
Lord Alton of Liverpool – To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the damage to cultural monuments and artefacts caused by the conflict in Tigray; and whether they intend to ask UNESCO for its response to any such assessment.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon – We are concerned by further reports from Tigray of attacks on places of worship as well as damage to cultural monuments and artefacts. An ongoing lack of access to the Tigray region means that it remains difficult to confirm these reports. We will continue to work with partners to seek further information. We continue to urge all parties to allow unfettered humanitarian access, a point the Foreign Secretary discussed with Prime Minister Abiy during his visit on 22 January.