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Situation Remains Tense In Ethiopia's Western Gambella Region - 2003-12-16

The UN refugee agency says the situation remains tense in Ethiopia’s Gambella region, following the killing of 8 people on Saturday. Their vehicle came under machine gun fire. Among those killed were three employees of the UNCR’s main partner in Ethiopia: the government’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs. Two policemen and three construction workers were also killed.

The UNHCR says, “The group was on their way to Odier-Bol, a new site being developed for the relocation of some 24,000 refugees from nearby Fugnido refugee camp.” Since the killings Saturday, the continuing ethnic violence has left as least 30 dead. Shops, schools, offices and backs are reported closed.

Kris Janowski is a spokesman for the UNHCR. From Geneva, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the situation near the western Ethiopian town of Gambella. He says, “There is a heavy military presence there and the government has sent officials to negotiate between the two groups.”

He says non-essential staff have been withdrawn from the area, but several staffers remain to monitor the situation.

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