The United Nations issued an appeal Friday for the protection of civilians in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region, amid reports of soldiers taking hundreds of people away from displacement camps in the region.
“We reiterate our call on all parties to ensure the protection of civilians including the forcibly displaced,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman Babar Baloch said during a news briefing in Geneva. “It is crucial that all parties to the conflict recognize the civilian and humanitarian character of the displacement sites.”
Eritrean and Ethiopian troops forcibly detained hundreds of young men and women in the northern town of Shire late Monday, according to news reports. Some of the detainees were released Thursday evening after UNHCR raised the issue with Ethiopian authorities, Baloch said.
Baloch did not specify how many civilians were detained and said it was not immediately clear where the remaining detainees were being held.
The Eritrean military has been helping Ethiopian troops battle Tigray’s former ruling party in a dispute that erupted last November.
Since then, thousands of people have been killed and some 2 million others have fled their homes to escape the violence. Nearly all of Tigray’s 6 million residents, 91%, are in need of aid, according to the most recent report by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.