CAIRO (AP) — Sudanese authorities on Sunday deported around three dozen Ethiopian peacekeepers, working on the UN mission in Darfur, to a refugee camp, the state-run news agency reported.
Al-Fateh Ibrahim Mohammed, head of the refugee agency in North Darfur province, said the troops are among 120 Ethiopian forces from the Tigrayan ethnic group, who have sought asylum in Sudan after their stay ended earlier this year, according to the SUNA news agency.
He said the the troops, including 14 women, refused to return after being recalled by their home country, Ethiopia, for fear of being detained by the federal government in Addis Ababa.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has waged a devastating war since November against the regional government in Tigray, claiming that Tigray forces had attacked a military base.
The Tigray conflict has been marked by massacres, gang rapes, expulsions and forced starvation. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken asserted in March that “ethnic cleansing” has taken place in Tigray.
Federal authorities in Addis Ababa have also swept up thousands of Tigrayans including high-level military officials into detention centers across Ethiopia on accusations that they are traitors, according to an Associated Press report.
United Nations spokesman Farhan Haq told the AP last month that a number of Ethiopians in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Darfur were “seeking international protection” as several hundred troops are being repatriated.
Mohammed, the Sudanese refugee official, said Sudan deported at least 33 troops Sunday from North Darfur’s provincial capital of el-Fasher to a refugee camp in the eastern province of Kassala, on the borders with Ethiopia. At least 31 others would leave el-Fasher Monday, he added.
The troops would join tens of thousands of Ethiopian refugees who fled the Tigray conflict to neighboring Sudan.